Hello There, Guest! (LoginRegister)

Post Reply 
Bird in Charlotte
Author Message
JD Heel Offline
All American

Posts: 3,432
Joined: Mar 2002
Reputation: 3
I Root For: UNC
Location: Charlotte, NC

Post: #1
<a href="http://espn.go.com/nba/news/2002/0701/1401189.html" target="_blank">Bird says he'd be committed to winning as the GM</a>

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Larry Bird is ready to lead a new NBA team to replace the departed Charlotte Hornets.

Making his first public appearance in Charlotte since announcing his interest in bringing the area an expansion team, Bird said Monday he intends to be as successful as a general manager as he was as a player and coach.

"I can't tell you how long it would take to make the playoffs," Bird said. "But I'll be here a long time -- so close the windows and lock the doors."

Bird, a Hall of Famer who led the Boston Celtics to three NBA titles and coached the Indiana Pacers to an Eastern Conference title, is the most famous face of a potential ownership group led by Boston-area businessman Steve Belkin.

Also involved is former Celtics player and coach M.L. Carr, currently president of the WNBA's Charlotte Sting. Bird, 45, would be the team's director of basketball operations, while Carr would handle community relations.

The Belkin group is in negotiations with the NBA for a team to replace the Hornets, who moved to New Orleans after the playoffs this year.

Bird met with reporters after leading a basketball clinic for about 200 local children before the Sting played the Phoenix Mercury.

Earlier in the day, he and Belkin met with city business and political leaders.

City leaders have said they are willing to build a $231 million arena, replacing the Charlotte Coliseum, for an expansion team and are expected to soon begin negotiations with the NBA on a lease.

"If you get the arena, you're going to have a new owner," Bird said. "It might not be us, but you'll have a new owner."

Bird said one of the greatest challenges facing a new ownership group would be rebuilding trust that was lost during the Hornets' final seasons. After years of leading the NBA in attendance, the Hornets saw support wither amid fans disenchanted with the ownership of George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge.

"I couldn't believe it," Bird said of the Hornets' move. "I didn't understand all of it. From what I hear, there were other issues. ... I think we can get the fan support back."

Unlike his coaching stint in Indiana, where he kept a vow to stay just three years, Bird said his commitment to running a Charlotte team would be open-ended.

Though Bird said he doesn't believe his stature in the NBA gives his group an inside edge, his partners clearly believe otherwise.

"Larry is a huge asset," Belkin said, "not just in who he's been to the NBA, but also in his commitment to excellence."

Belkin said he expects the NBA to negotiate an arena lease with the city, then come to potential ownership groups with a franchise fee -- expected to be anywhere from $200 million to $300 million. If more than one group is willing to pay the fee, he said, he expects the league to make a "qualitative decision" about which group gets the team.

Belkin has set an aggressive timetable for winning a team, saying he wants a decision by September and for the team to begin play in the 2003-04 season. That would mean at least one season at the Coliseum before a new arena would be ready.
07-02-2002 11:28 AM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply

Lucy Offline
All American

Posts: 2,519
Joined: Apr 2002
Reputation: 67
I Root For: Wake Forest
Location: Raleigh, NC

Post: #2
I'd love to see Charlotte get another team. We need an accessible alternative to the Hawks in the Southeast (yes, I know the Magic are down here, but Charlotte is a much easier drive than Orlando!)
07-02-2002 12:58 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply

JD Heel Offline
All American

Posts: 3,432
Joined: Mar 2002
Reputation: 3
I Root For: UNC
Location: Charlotte, NC

Post: #3
Local column in today's Charlotte Observer about Bird:

<a href="http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/sports/columnists/3583767.htm" target="_blank">Bird's group has an obvious advantage</a>

Larry Bird walks into Charlotte Coliseum and the reaction is interesting. Fans don't run to him and follow him the way they do some celebrities or act as if they're old friends the way they do others.

Bird doesn't invite that. He is nice enough, but he isn't gregarious. And at 6-foot-9, and very tan and very blond, he has enough presence and size to discourage idle conversation.

Some idle conversation can't be avoided, however, and Bird stands behind a lectern at the Coliseum early Monday evening and answers questions from reporters. This is his first public appearance in Charlotte since he played in the Coliseum 10 years ago.

Bird, who is part of a group that wants to buy an expansion team from the NBA and put it in Charlotte, is asked what advantage his group has over the others that allegedly want a team.

M.L. Carr, a teammate of Bird's in Boston and a teammate in the effort to land an NBA team, responds by pointing to the big man. This is the advantage their group has, Carr says as he uses both arms to point at Bird.

"Quiet, M.L.," Bird says.

Bird, 45, might be uncomfortable with attention, but he's not uncomfortable parlaying his status -- 12-time All-Star, winner in each of the three seasons he coached the Indiana Pacers, and legend -- into reminding the NBA who he is.

"Larry is as competitive as anybody," says Carr. "Every advantage that he possesses he will use."

If their group gets the team, Bird will run it. What an opportunity he would have. There would be no tradition to get in his way, no mistakes to undo. The roster would be his.

Bird lives in Naples, Fla., way down the Gulf Coast, a land of sunshine, golf and water, and one of the few places in the world where a 45-year-old is called kid. Bird says competition drives him, and he "can't get it on the golf course, can't get it in the swimming pool."

He says if Charlotte builds an arena, it "definitely" will get a team. He sees the building as more than a two-hour stop on game nights, sees fans coming early and kids playing ball on baskets set up outside.

He remembers playing on baskets inside Charlotte Coliseum, with fans crammed into the seats on each of side of them as far as he could see. He played four seasons in the building, and his last season was Larry Johnson's first. I remember his first game against Johnson. Bird talked incessant trash, Johnson talked back and a good time was had by all.

If Bird gets his team, he will move to Charlotte, and says he and his family will dig in. He likes the size, which is small by NBA standards, likes that it lacks the "hustle and bustle" of a bigger city. He also likes that you can "get where you're going pretty quickly." He must have had a police escort.

Before the news conference, and before the Charlotte Sting played the Phoenix Mercury in a WNBA game, Bird joined Carr, who also is the president of the Sting, and Dell Curry, the Toronto Raptor and former Hornet, to put on a basketball clinic. On the floor were about 300 kids.

With them, Bird was engaging and easy. He gave them tips about how to shoot, and invited them to shoot free throws.

Despite the tips, they kept missing big.

"Does everybody in Charlotte shoot airballs?" he asked.

No. But the last few seasons in this building were so ugly it sure did feel that way.

07-02-2002 03:56 PM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Terpy Offline

Posts: 8,398
Joined: Feb 2002
Reputation: 22
I Root For:
Post: #4
Hopefully Charolette will get a new team soon, the NBA wont be the same without a team in Charolette. Just dont give it a cheesy name like most new sports teams have been doing...
07-02-2002 09:18 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 

User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Copyright © 2002-2017 Collegiate Sports Nation Bulletin Board System (CSNbbs), All Rights Reserved.
CSNbbs is an independent fan site and is in no way affiliated to the NCAA or any of the schools and conferences it represents.
This site monetizes links. FTC Disclosure.
Powered By MyBB, © 2002-2017 MyBB Group.