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Could Larry Bird replace Frank Vogel as coach of the struggling Indiana Pacers before the start of this month’s NBA playoffs?
Clamors for Larry Legend to descend from the front office and rescue what once almost assuredly seemed a memorable playoff run are multiplying as the once front-running Pacers continue their mind-boggling downward descent.
Indiana was 42-10 around the All-Star break, but has stumbled to a 13-13 mark over their last 26 games, falling two full games behind bitter rival Miami in the loss column for the No.1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers seemingly hit their lowest point of the season on Sunday, falling behind equally struggling Atlanta by as many as 31 points en route to a 107-88 blowout home loss.
What’s more Vogel and his men seem far from the well-oiled machine they were just a short time ago. The veteran coach benched All-Star center Roy Hibbert for the entire second half of the Atlanta debacle and afterwards Hibbert’s frustrations were as evident as the Pacers struggles are.
Now team president, Bird previously coached the Pacers from 1997-2000, going 147-67 and He went 147-67 and 52-32 in the playoffs. He led Indiana to the Eastern Conference Finals twice and lost the 2000 NBA Finals to the L.A. Lakers.
But perhaps even more importantly, Bird has the respect of every man in the Pacers’ locker room, something no one can any longer say about Vogel with any level of certainty.
About a month ago, Bird admitted to reporters he didn’t feel Vogel was pushing his players hard enough and since then the Pacers have struggled even more, despite adding veteran reserves Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum.
All that seems to suggest with Bird on the sidelines this postseason or not, if Vogel can’t quickly get the Pacers to right their ship and set course on the sort of playoff run most have foreseen for them all season long, his days in Indiana could soon be numbered.
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