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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Legendary Bird Flies Home to Coach Job

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- It was his competitive spirit that brought Larry Bird back from the city where he achieved glory as one of basketball's all-time greatest players to his home state as coach of the Indiana Pacers, "Larry Legend" said at a news conference Monday.


"Everybody asks me why do I want to do this," said Bird, who reached a multi-year agreement with the Pacers last Thursday. "I've always been competitive, and I've been laying around for five years. I found that 35 was too young to retire. And this is my home state."


Bird, 40, ends a long, glorious relationship with the Boston Celtics and replaces Larry Brown, who resigned last week and later was named coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics named Rick Pitino as their head coach last week.


Terms were not disclosed, but various reports put Bird's salary at $4 million per year, with options ranging from entering the front office to part ownership.


Bird was one of the smartest players in NBA history during his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, but he has never held any sort of coaching job.


"I want to make it clear that we want Larry back because we know that he's going to help us win ballgames. We think that all the attributes that he had as a player are going to be transferrable to being a good coach," said Pacers president Donnie Walsh.


Bird said he will probably sit down next week and begin assembling a coaching staff. He said that some potential candidates are current assistants in the NBA.


One of Bird's last duties working for the Celtics was beginning a dialogue with Pitino regarding Boston's coaching vacancy. Pitino accepted the job last Tuesday, leaving Kentucky, and said he hoped Bird would stay with the Celtics as general manager. Instead, the "hick from French Lick" returned to his roots.


"I didn't want to coach any other team," Bird said.


Bird was born in West Baden, Indiana, and was raised in French Lick. He attended Indiana University, briefly, and then Indiana State. He led the Sycamores to the 1979 NCAA title game, where they lost to Magic Johnson and Michigan State.


That game forever linked Bird and Johnson, whose rivalry continued in the NBA and is credited for saving the league from fan disaffection.


Bird won a Rookie of the Year award, three Most Valuable Player Awards and three NBA titles in 13 years with the Celtics before chronic back pain forced him to retire in 1992. He joined the Boston front office as a special assistant shortly thereafter.