Iconic basketball star named big bird of executives

NEW YORK – Retired NBA superstar Larry Bird was named the NBA Executive of the Year on Wednesday, becoming the first to complete a treble sweep of top awards for players, coaches and front office leaders. Bird, the Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations, received 12 first-place votes and 88 points overall in a vote from a panel of NBA club executives in winning the award. He oversaw the assembly of the Indiana squad that went 42-24 this season to claim the third seed in the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs and the fifth-best overall record in the league this season. “This is an honor for the Indiana Pacers, not an award for Larry Bird,” said Bird. “Everyone in this franchise put in a lot of work and showed a lot of patience as we have tried to get this team to a level on and off the court the fans in Indiana can be proud of. “You always believe, and hope, the players you get will fit into a plan and I’m very proud of what our guys and our coaches have accomplished so far this year.” Bird won the NBA Most Valuable Player award as a star for the Boston Celtics in 1984, 1985 and 1986. The Indiana native also captured the NBA Coach of the Year award in 1998 after a 58-24 campaign in his first season guiding the Pacers. In three seasons coaching the Pacers, Bird went 147-67 and masterminded the team to its only NBA Finals appearance in 2000, when Indiana lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. The only prior winners of NBA coach of the year and executive of the year honors were former Lakers coach Pat Riley, ex-Utah coach Frank Layden and Celtics icon Red Auerbach. Bird took Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel and made him the team’s coach last July and added to Indiana’s talent pool by signing David West last December while making deals for Lou Amundson and Leandro Barbosa. San Antonio’s R.C. Buford was second in top executive voting with 56 points and eight first-place votes while Neil Olshey of the Los Angeles Clippers was third with 55 points and six first-place votes.