Indianapolis, IN – Larry Bird stepped down as president of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, capping a series of major moves by the organization.
Former CEO Donnie Walsh is returning to Indiana to replace Bird. The team also named Kevin Pritchard their new general manager.
The announcements came a day after David Morway gave his resignation as general manager.
The moves came at a critical time, just a day before the NBA draft. The Pacers hold the 26th overall selection.
Bird, who said he made the decision to resign due in part to health issues with his back and shoulder, will work through the draft Thursday night. After that, he said he'd take a year off before deciding what to do next.
Pacers owner Herb Simon had been speaking to Bird for a couple of years about the impending move.
"I think it's time, sometimes it's just the time to go," Bird said. "I'm very thrilled these two gentlemen (Pritchard and Walsh) will be taking over. They'll do a fantastic job and move this Pacer team forward."
The 55-year-old Bird was recently named NBA Executive of the Year. He became the first person to be named MVP (three times with the Boston Celtics), Coach of the Year (1998 with the Pacers) and Executive of the Year.
The Pacers earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 42-24 record this past season. Bird strengthened the roster by signing two-time All-Star David West during free agency and acquiring Leandro Barbosa in March.
Bird was named president on July 11, 2003 and the Pacers had three winning seasons and five playoff appearances during his tenure as an executive with the team.
Before joining the front office, Bird led Indiana to a 147-67 record as head coach from 1998-2000. The Pacers advanced to the East finals in all three seasons, winning the title in 2000 before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Walsh, who was GM of the Pacers from 1986-88 and president from 1988-2008, departed the organization and served as president of basketball operations with the New York Knicks for two years. He worked as a consultant with the Knicks last season.
"I'm very comfortable in coming back and doing whatever I can to help the Pacers continue their return to prominence in the NBA," Walsh said. "This is home in so many ways and I couldn't be more proud about coming back and being part of this great franchise again."
Pritchard, who was born in Bloomington, Ind., was the GM of the Portland Trail Blazers from 2007-10 until he was fired. He joined the Pacers as director of player personnel last summer.
"Basketball is always changing," Pritchard said. "Sometimes you can learn more from your failures than your successes."