Larry Bird was named President of Basketball Operations of the Indiana Pacers on July 12, 2003. Ironically, Bird’s first move as GM of the Indiana Pacers was to re-sign Jermaine O’Neal. Larry inherited a team that had won 48 games the previous season but had been defeated in the first round by the sixth seeded Boston Celtics. Not surprisingly, Bird fired coach Isiah Thomas a little more than a month into his tenure and replaced Isiah with Rick Carlisle.
But aside from firing Thomas and hiring Carlisle, all of Indiana’s success should be attributed to Donnie Walsh. Walsh drafted high school phenom Al Harrington with the 28th pick in the 1998 NBA draft, traded Antonio Davis for Jonathan Bender in 1999, traded Dale Davis for Jermaine O’Neal in 2000, and traded Jalen Rose, Travis Best, and Norm Richardson for Ron Mercer, Kevin Ollie, Ron Artest,and Brad Miller in 2002. [ Read ]