There has yet be a player since the Association formed, who possessed more competitive drive than Larry Bird. While the “Basketball Hall Of Fame” forward had incredible talent on the hardwood, his never surrender mindset was a huge factor to him leading the Boston Celtics to three NBA championships. Bird ripped his team in the 1984 NBA Finals for not showing adequate toughness against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics captain either touched a nerve or inspired his teammates, but the “Green Team” defeated their long-time rivals in that series and got Larry Legend his second Championship ring.
Although he hung up his sneakers for good after the 1992 Olympics, Bird still has that same fire in the belly as the Team President of the Indiana Pacers. He displayed some of that drive on Thursday afternoon, as he traded a player he called “my favorite,” longtime Pacers star Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers for swingman Evan Turner. Although the Indiana exec hated to part with Granger, Bird believes that Turner gives his team a better shot at defeating the Miami Heat and have a chance to win their first NBA Title.
“Indy Star.com” reported that the Pacers completed a trade before the NBA trade deadline kicked in on Thursday, that sent Granger and a second round Draft pick in 2015, to the Sixers for Turner and big man Lavoy Allen. That was the final move of the season for Philadelphia, a team that has held a “Going Out Of Business, Everything Must Go” attitude for the last month. The 76ers have basically gutted their club intent on starting from scratch at the conclusion of the current campaign.
The Sixers reportedly reached out to Indiana on Thursday with the trade proposal, a move that the Team President admitted caught him by surprise. Bird told reporters “I didn’t think there was going to be anything there, that we’re really looking for, but when this came up and caught our attention, and we thought maybe we should do it. Try to stabilize that second unit. Obviously, Lavoy Allen’s another big body that can play and Evan Turner; I like guys who can play multiple positions. You can talk all you want about how he can’t hit an outside shot, can’t do this. I always look at the positive side of it. I think he’s a kid who can come in right away and help us.”
Bird also revealed his personal feelings about Granger to the media. The Pacers executive said “It’s just a tough deal. Danny’s always been my favorite. I understand the disappointment. A lot of people say that I’ve been trying to trade him for a year and I haven’t been doing that. I even told Danny that. I did tell him if a great opportunity arises, you can’t say you’ll never trade somebody.”
Unfortunately, injuries have gotten the best of the former All-Star throughout the last couple of seasons. Granger was coming off the bench for his club and his numbers were far below his career averages, in 29 games he put up only 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per contest. That is a huge contrast that the numbers that Turner has produced in what has been his best campaign in the Association. The swingman has been a starter all season for Philadelphia and has averaged 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. That’s a lot of fire-power coming from the man who anchors a team’s second unit.
On paper the deal looks great for Indiana, but that does not always translate into good chemistry in the locker room. Danny Granger was a team leader and a mentor for Indiana, giving Evan Turner big shoes to fill.