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NBA: 10 questions with Larry Bird

October 9, 2013 4:47pm

Larry Bird. Roehl Niño Bautista, GMA News

After avoiding questions since his arrival in Manila, Monday, Celtics legend and Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird finally broke his silence on Wednesday. With his dry wit and sharp insight, Bird answered questions about his career, the Pacers, and the face of the game moving forward.

On how he's enjoying Manila

I've got nothing but great things to say about it even though it's only been a short time. Thanks for giving us an opportunity to come over here and perform in front of you and all the basketball fans around.

Advice for Gilas-Pilipinas at the FIBA Worlds next year

It's like the playoffs. The first round is tough, the second round is completely different. As you keep moving up, the competition is greater. That's why it's so hard in [the NBA] to beat the great teams night in and night out. The level of competition keeps getting greater. You gotta keep working and keep playing. You gotta stay together as you keep moving up and pull together in the same direction.

On playing for the original Dream Team in 1992

They've tried to duplicate that over the years, but it was a great team with very special players. Guys who were long in the career, younger guys who were coming in, and obviously everyone thinks that [Michael] Jordan was the best player ever, and I was able to play with him and Magic Johnson. It's a great honor to represent your country but going in we knew we were gonna win.

On whether the current Pacers remind him of his old Celtics

I don't compare this team to the Celtics teams I've played on, I think it's a completely different style of play. But I do think that we're good enough, we're deep enough, [and] we can compete for a championship. It's still our goal to get into the Finals and try to win the whole thing, but overall this team's completely different from the teams I've played on. But we're getting better. Last year we got to the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami, but until we make the next step we're not gonna get there. I do like our chances, and hopefully in a short period of time we can challenge for a championship.

On Fil-Am Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra

He's done a great job. He's a very young coach even if he's been a part of basketball for a long time. He's got a lot of scrutiny going on and he has a very tough job going for him, but I think he's handled it the best he possibly could. Obviously they've got a lot of talent going on, but sometimes it's the teams with the most talent that are the most difficult to coach.

On his recent draft-day successes for Indiana

Well I've made some mistakes too. Danny Granger was a guy we thought was going in the top 10 in the draft, we picked him 14th. It was really fortunate that he slid to our pick. Roy Hibbert was picked 17th too; a lot of people passed him up. We got him on draft night in a trade. Paul George was a top-10 pick, and Lance Stephenson was ranked at 42.

Everybody has different things that they look for in a player. I tend to look at length, I look at shooting obviously. Can he defend first? Is he a team player? Does he do the things necessary to get better every year? Sometimes it's hard; you have to talk to different college coaches, different AAU coaches, to get as much information as you can out of them. Then you try to put together a team that fits. Are they gonna pass to one another? Are they gonna play team defense? Are they gonna pull for one another? There are a lot of things that go into it, but a lot of the time you just hope you get lucky.

What players nowadays can learn from him

I think patience is a big thing. A lot of my guys worked very hard during the offseason. The problem I have with guys who work hard is they don't work on the right things. A lot of players will go out and they'll shoot 500 three-point shots. And they can't believe that when I practiced, I never shot three-pointers. I always thought the midrange game was the most important part of the game, because you want the ball as close to the rim as you can, so layups are what you want all the time. But I always thought the midrange game was what I needed to work on more than three-point shooting. So I tell my guys during the summer, don't work on three-pointers, work on the midrange game. If they can do that on a consistent basis, they will get better. I just think that players work on things they don't need to work on. So when a player asks me a question, I try to help them the way I did.

On the Pacers' offseason acquisitions

I think we're pretty much set where we're up for now. But last year, after looking at the performance of our bench [then], I thought that a lot of games they hurt us by not being able to score the basketball. We were fortunate to get CJ [Watson] first, a great back-up point guard who has some experience in the league. Then we got Chris Copeland from New York, and we all know that Chris is a deadeye shooter, he can score points in a hurry. Everybody knows Luis Scola and what he brings to the table. He's a little bit older now, but for what we need, he's perfect. They're three moves we made that we think will make us stronger, and if we're going to compete at a high level, our bench has got to give us more than it did last year.

I hope so [they're the deepest team in the East], but we'll never know. It looks good on paper but we'll have to see what happens.

If he ever feels pressure on the court or in the front office

Pressure? I don't know what that is. Obviously you've never seen me play.

On the difference in international basketball then and now

If you remember back in 1992, what I was told before everyone decided to get together and play in the Olympics was, you can change the game of basketball in the whole world if you just do this. What they meant by that was if we go over there and dominate, everybody else in the world will say they've gotta get better. They gotta get better coaches, better facilities, better training techniques.

The one thing I've seen in the last 20 years is everybody's gotten better. It's not just the United States or China, everybody in the world's basketball is getting better, and it's because of what happened in 1992, because if they didn't get better, USA was gonna dominate forever. So what you've seen over the last 15 or 18 years, every once in a while we do get beat, and we get beat because of what happened in 1992. - AMD, GMA News
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