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“When the Game Was Ours” Excerpt of the Day

“When the Game Was Ours” has been my morning subway ride reading for the last two weeks. I’m reading it in 15-page chunks (20 pages if the subway is delayed, which it always is) to make the book last, so to speak. When I come across an excerpt I really like, I’ll post it here.

On Larry Bird’s tenure as coach of the Indiana Pacers:

Bird’s expectations were straightforward: be in shape, be respectful, be on time. He enforced all three. In his first year, the Pacers were taking a charter flight to Nashville, Tennessee, for an exhibition game against the Charlotte Hornets. At precisely 4:00 p.m., Bird signaled for the pilot to start the engine and take off. At 4:03, Dale Davis and Travis Best ran out onto the tarmac, bags in hand. The pilot cut the engine. Bird signaled for him to rev it up again. The door remained closed and the plane took off, leaving two of the team’s key players standing on the runway in disbelief.

Once again, Larry Bird: Totally and completely awesome.

  • Jason

    Sadly, old school values like that are rarely on display anymore. Now players (not just NBA) have a sense of entitlement to preferential treatment and often to be the one “driving the bus” instead of the coach and often coaches don’t have the backbone to lay down the law (see, Doc/Sheed as a merely mild example).

    Sure, people in power positions sometimes are in over their heads (not saying that Bird here, necessarily) and also sometimes power-tripping, but despite that, there has to be a guy in charge and the others need to follow his plan and his rules, not the other way around. I love anecdotes like this.

  • jeryl

    i agree sheed is not where its at doc rivers need to stand up any time you talk to your coach like that its a problem you cant control your players its a problem rasheed is a problem he does nothing for the team jacking up three not making it its a problem lack of defense no energy why do we have this guy its hurting us bad please doc rivers sit him for shelden please or scal

  • What More Can I Say?

    I don’t know Zach. Totally and completely awesome?!?

    I can’t say I am mad at Larry Bird though. I wish the guy was coaching somewhere. He is not going for no BS and he definitely made his point. Call me crazy, but isn’t that what “team fines” are for? Let the guys get on the plane and sit their butts on the pine.

    Maybe I am just showing my age.

  • rav

    Not too cool. I would have been okay if they had started taking-off, but he didn’t let them in after the pilot already cut the engines?

    @What More…

    Yeah, a team fine would probably hurt them more than it would to get their own flight.

  • Jay P

    @rav

    A team fine? Huh? That would have done absolutely nothing. These guys make millions, you think they give a crap about being fine 10-50k. Psh, it’s pointless.

    Now… standing on a runway with bags in hand watching a plane fly off without you, now that sends a message, it’s embarrassing, and I bet you they weren’t late again.

    So Yes, Larry Bird: Totally and completely awesome.

  • Dave

    Preseason game. Perfect time to make your point.

  • Ahhh, When basketball was life and rivalries were to the death. Now its only entertainment.

  • What More Can I Say?

    @Dave

    Good point. Missed that the first time I read it.