Thursday, September 26th, 2013 at 8:30 am  |  23 responses

Larry Bird Believes Pacers Are Title Contenders

by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz

Last season, the Pacers fell one win short of the Finals. But they were underdogs—upstarts who nobody expected to get that close in the first place. This season they won’t be sneaking up on anybody. This season, it’s title or bust, according to Larry Bird. From IndyStar.com:

“Larry Bird doesn’t play around. He doesn’t soften expectations, doesn’t keep goals artificially low so he can say at season’s end, ‘See, we overachieved.’ So the question was asked of the Indiana Pacers president just a few days before the start of training camp Saturday. ‘Does this team have the potential to win a world championship?’ He never blinked. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘We’re all in.’ Why wouldn’t he feel that way? Why wouldn’t there be title aspirations for a team that took the Miami Heat to a seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals? Why wouldn’t he be bullish on a team that accomplished all of that without Danny Granger or a decent bench? ‘Anything less than (a Finals appearance or a conference finals appearance) would be a disappointment,’ he said. ‘I think anything over 50 wins is a good season, but I believe we’re built more for the playoffs than we are for the regular season. Because we’re deep and we’ll have time to prepare. It’s hard to beat 10 or 11 guys.’”

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  • spit hot fiyah

    amazing bill walton quote:

    “At the end of one of the [road] trips, we had accomplished every
    goal. We hadn’t lost a game on the trip, and Larry told all of us
    players, and the media too, ‘Tomorrow’s the last game of the trip. I’m
    gonna play this one left-handed, at least through three quarters.’ And
    at the end of three quarters, the next night in Portland, against poor
    Jerome Kersey, he had 27 points left-handed.”

    On Valentine’s Day, 1986,
    Larry Bird finished with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, his
    second consecutive triple double (Bird had 31/15/11 the night before
    against the Seattle Supersonics).

    With six seconds left in the 4th quarter, Larry Bird hit a jump shot
    to tie the game, and send it to overtime. With three seconds left in
    OT, Bird hit a jumper to win it.

    Boston 120 – Portland 119.

  • JibbsIsBallin

    Pacers are the Heat’s toughest competition in the entire league. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them go to the conference finals again. But the Heat are deep in the roster too.

  • JibbsIsBallin

    You quoted Bill Walton quoting Larry Bird. I don’t know if I’ve seen this happen before.

  • Shooting Guard

    always so seems so till they run into that kid from akron

  • LLC#12

    They certainly are contenders, the East got a lot tougher this year, with the return of Rose, and the additions the Pacers and Nets have made. Only the Pacers form a legitimate challenge to the Heat though, imo.

  • bike

    Well, when Larry calls it, it’s going down.

  • Max


  • Dubya

    Well considering they were one coaching decision away from beating the Heat, this doesn’t seem like a strong argument. Plus, Miami got a lot of calls that series and LeBron got lucky to win this past ring. Ray made the shot that saved him. Indiana and San Antonio lost their ring, LeBron didn’t win it.

  • 23

    I don’t see how the Pacers were considered “underdogs” last season. They had the most complete roster in the Eastern Conference. Seriously like if you underestimated Indiana, who did you think would challenge Miami last year? NYK? Come on now. And they added Scola to the mix, which I believe is one of the best moves this offseason. Anybody who truly knows basketball knows that Indiana still has the best overall roster in the East. The only reason they didn’t win it all was because of LeBron James.

  • http://www.netstakeover.com/ JetSkiJohnson

    Nets will be better. Pacers will have two problems this season….. Getting rid of Granger and their point guard position.

  • keyon dooling


  • keyon dooling

    I still believe – as crazy it sounds – motivation is Miami’s biggest factor in winning. People tend to forgot the Heat won the only game in which their backs were totally against the wall vs Indiana (g7) by about 30, with LBJ chatting it up with Becks with 6 minutes to go in the game! Let’s please NOT say that the Pacers were one play/coaching decision away from a Finals app. Series likely would’ve taken a diff. trajectory, but who’s to say wholeheartedly that the Pacers were LOCKS to knock off the MIAMI HEAT after 1 road win. Invalid argument really

  • LP @ThisisEther

    best overall roster?? Thats a debate… Chicago takes this, imo…..

    Deng, Boozer, Noah, rose, Butler vs. george, hibbert, west, and lance stev…lets not include granger…. its not a no brainer….

    plus Brooklyn..and Miami’s roster isn’t that bad when you think about it….

    The main thing that hurts Indy is they have very sub-par point guard play…Thats the fault i saw in this roster last year, and its still a fault……PG play is a strong point of the other teams….including miami, much as it hurts me to say

  • ATL dynamite

    That bench in Chicago tho.. I’m sticking with the Pacers on this one

  • underdog
  • noob

    Copeland, Scola, and Watson added? I don’t want to make predictions about the next finals, but all I know is that the regular season IND vs MIA and Brooklyn are going to be insane.

  • BugEyes

    If Paul George had that fire in his heart, like Larry did they would 3 peat, and we would say LeBron who


    game 7 pacers @ heat (76 to 99 blowout). spurs @ heat (88 to 95). no if’s. just facts

  • Busta213

    your “Lebron didn’t win it” comment = whining. LeBron walked away with a ring and was the best player in every series he played in.

    Its funny how you guys try to discredit Bron for taking advantage of other teams mistakes like hes the first player in history to have that happen!

  • LP @ThisisEther

    that bench in Indiana aint too awesome either…lance, scola, and Cj watson vs Hinrich, dunleavy, taj gibson…..? its a draw, edge to chicago

  • http://basketball-performance.com/ Basketball Tips

    of course they are, this is old news.


  • Shooting Guard

    and this is your strong argument?

  • Shooting Guard

    i guess