Earlier today, the Indiana Pacers decided to not renew Frank Vogel’s contract and relieved him of his duties as head coach of the team. This move came just a few days after a disgruntled Larry Bird didn’t take too kindly to seeing his team being knocked out of the playoffs by the two-seeded Toronto Raptors in seven games. For a team that didn’t have a legitimate center and zero inside presence, I’d say that’s not too shabby.
In his six years as the main man in Indiana, Vogel led the Pacers to a 250-181 record [.580 win pct]. If you nullify the 2014-15 season in which his best player, Paul George, sat out basically the entire season due to a horrendous injury, his record stands at an impressive 212-137 with a .607 winning percentage. This stat line occupies in the neighborhood of current NBA coaches such as Eric Spoelstra, Scott Brooks, and Stan Van Gundy.
At the press conference this morning, Larry Bird was quoted saying, “I think he did fine, but it’s all about motivating players and getting them to play at a higher level.” In other words, Bird didn’t see Vogel as being a “player’s” coach–a popular concept of lax coaching that allows the players to direct themselves.
This is entirely a coward’s way out. Rather than doing his job and recruting a big man to fill that gigantic hole in the middle of the court, Larry Bird is averting the real issue and pointing the finger in all the wrong directions. Thinking like this leads to insecurity and doubt–then derailment.
With the market of big name players about to open up in the next two upcoming season, Bird will be walking on glass in the decision-making on filling the coaching vacancy. Depending on how he plays this out, Bird could see his best players eager to escape a small-market team in order to find glam and fortune. With the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks on the prowl to round up a bunch of big names these next two years, the Pacers should be worried that All-Star baller Paul George will be taking the flight from IND to LAX or JFK.
If this is to come about, this could mean the Pacers are about to take a MAJOR step back and reboot. Considering this, Bird would be smart to bring in someone that George [along with others] would favor. But who? Since Scott Brooks signed with the Washington Wizards and Luke Walton with the Lakers, the only other big name coach out there would be George Karl and David Blatt. [Neither have won a Championship.]
Teams these days are so easily willing to drop a head coach for not living up to extremely unrealistic expectations. The team had a .580 winning percentage–.607 if you drop the disabled 2014-15 season! Including two trips to the Eastern Conference Championship, Vogel’s postseason record was above .500. What more must a man do? Oh, an NBA Championship in a LeBron James era?
Allow the question to be posed. How many NBA Championships did Larry Bird bring to Indiana as a head coach?