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Larry Bird Blames Players For Pacers' Woes, His Players

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Kobe Bryant wasn't satisfied with his performance in the Lakers' loss to the Heat last night, so after the game he went back to work, putting up shots and putting in the time to work through his struggles.

That's what champions do.

Larry Bird knows all about a champion's work ethic. Unfortunately, the players he's put in a Pacers uniform don't.

The report from Mike Wells today on the internal issues plaguing the Pacers is especially disheartening when juxtaposed with Kobe's post-loss response last night. I've heard grumblings for a couple of weeks about the team starting to take advantage of interim coach Frank Vogel loosening the reins on his players. Practice effort had started to wane and Wells confirms those grumblings today.

Player professionalism is being questioned. Some players have begun arriving for practice just before the scheduled start time. Others constantly joke around during workouts.

The lack of commitment in practice is showing up in games. The Pacers have lost by at least 10 points in five of their past seven defeats.

"You have to have the players behind you and they have to be willing to work hard," Bird said. "I know what's going on; the players know what's going on. We're just not getting the effort."

Bird blames the players and is obviously fed up with several problem children mucking things up inside the locker room, and no I'm not just referencing Lance Stephenson. But no one, from the front office to the coaches to the players escapes scrutiny in this mess. Bird has taken a more active role with the players of late, travelling with the team, and according to a Paul George tweet, offering on-court counsel.

But the mess remains of what once seemed like a move in a positive direction. With the season's goals of improving and making the playoffs right in the palm of their hand, this collection of players can't be bothered to step up and save the sinking ship?

That tells me it's time for a new ship with a new skipper charting a new course.