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Larry Bird Hits Nothing but Net

Larry Joe Legend takes plenty of abuse from fans for everthing that goes wrong with the Pacers. Even though he's been working under or with Donnie Walsh for a few years, it seems like the bad stuff is always LJL's fault. With all of the past transgressions, LJL remained in the background while DW addressed the situation publicly. Donnie would tuck himself behind the authorities to pick up the draft of the legal process, thus giving the players their due process at work and in the legal system. Problem is, time dillutes the impact of punishment in the eyes of the public. Now, I'm not absolving LJL of all past front office sins, but the fact is he's never been THE man in charge.

Well, LJL is now fully in charge, and his inital reaction and subsequent actions involving the arrest of Shawne Williams splashed through the net like a corner 3-ball from the old Boston Garden.

This report from the Pacers was a proactive move we haven't seen in the past. Both LJL and Shawne didn't waste time working with the media to defuse the situation. LJL actually talked at length and his words struck a perfect tone.

"He said he feels sorry and he's remorseful," Bird said. "Does that cure all ills? No. Now, he's got to be a good citizen, play the game the way it's supposed to be played and be a good teammate."

Williams' arrest came at a particularly bad time for the Pacers, the day after the franchise launched its 2007-08 advertising campaign aimed at regaining fans' trust while putting the troubles of recent seasons in the past.

"We're trying to do all we can to get (fans) back in here," Bird said. "We know winning takes care of a lot of things but, still, these players have to be held accountable. They have to be good for the young people that follow them. We have a fan base that likes to watch our players play. Right now they're down on us a little bit but it's up to us to put a product out there and good human beings that they love to follow and love to support."
I almost feel like LJL set up this whole story so he could establish a new disciplinary precedent. I mean, Shawne learns a hard but cheap lesson by going through a round of public shaming but in the end only having to straighten out things with the BMV.

LJL seized the opportunity to guide his young talent with some tough love, while sending a stern message to the franchise, city, and fans everywhere, that LJL is in charge and things are different. Let's hope everyone, and at this point I'm talking strictly about the roster, gets the message. It would really be nice to talk about basketball when I talk about the Pacers.