With a positive press conference comes a new vote of confidence, as Larry Bird introduced interim head coach Frank Vogel. Bird had a number of positive things to say about Vogel, and at least for one night, Pacer fans can feel confident about the changes being made. The decision came from Bird himself regarding O’Brien’s firing. He felt comfortable with O’Brien as the Pacers went out West for their road trip that ended up being an 0-4 trip. Then as the Pacers failed to remain competitive against Orlando, he began to seriously think of a change. When Herb Simon gave him the go ahead to make whatever decision he wanted, Bird opted to move forward without O’Brien.
Bird didn’t want to come down to coach, but will be glad to offer Vogel and the rest of the coaching staff any advice and help they ask for, but he has to let the coach do his job. Ultimately, Bird was frustrated the young guys weren’t getting adequate playing time, especially making note of Tyler Hansbrough, but also mentioning Paul George, who has proved that time on the court has been a positive effect to his game, as well as Lance Stephenson, who he wouldn’t mind playing.
Most importantly, Bird didn’t like O’Brien tough love approach to the young guys. He was sure to state he didn’t like it as a coach, and he didn’t like it as a player. It seemed an ineffective way to handle a situation, even though you can’t always be positive. He noted that that kind of approach can work, but it wasn’t working with this group, as obvious by Roy Hibbert’s struggles.
With the change, Bird still expects the Pacers to be in the playoffs. Nothing has changed in terms of his decision to return, the future of the staff, but he knows the players will respond to Vogel and help him out. He fully trusts their maturity because he knows the guys he has on the team are good guys. He still wanted the fans to know that the franchise was committed; committed to the playoffs, committed to rebuilding quickly with no mistakes. He likes where the franchise is, even if the season isn’t in an optimal spot. When asked about Lester Conner, Bird had no regrets about him not being with the team.
Pacers fans were introduced to Frank Vogel, who is now the youngest head coach in the NBA, at age 37. Vogel began by saying he wishes he could’ve been accepting this job under different circumstances. He thanks Jim O’Brien for his opportunity and would say O’Brien said only positive things to Vogel about his new job. Vogel likes this team and has plenty of confidence he, along with his assistant coaches, can get results immediately.
When asked about what kind of changes he would be making, Vogel slyly dodged the answer, telling everyone to "stay tuned." He didn’t want tip off his opponents on any changes, but stated that some things, such as substitution patterns, could and would see immediate changes, but it becomes a little more difficult to change other facets of the team, but they will work on those changes as the season progresses. He did make a point to discuss that he wanted to use Hibbert’s versatility more, get him back to playing high level defense and fix his jumper.
Coach Vogel still looks for a seamless transition regardless of the circumstances. He has faith in the youth and the veterans, and already regrets that he can’t play everyone because he knows what he has on this team. A big question about the firing had to do with whether or not anyone stepping into the job had experience. Vogel pointed out that he is not only in his 14th season, but has worked at all levels in game preparation. Head coaching is different from assistant coaching? "That’s what they say." Welcome aboard, Coach.