Donnie Walsh has officially retired at age 79, leaving his current role as consultant with the Indiana Pacers after a vital role with the organization that began as an assistant coach and then general manager in 1986.
The current strong foundation for the organization was put in place by Walsh starting with drafting Chuck Person and Reggie Miller in his GM days to the 20 years as president when he put together the beloved, hard-working teams that had great success in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Walsh eventually spent three years with his hometown team, trying to help build the New York Knicks before returning to Indy to help advise Larry Bird and Kevin Pritchard. He was always seen before games observing player workouts from the sideline. I often wondered how many thousands of hours he had spent in his hoops lifetime watching NBA talent workout from day-to-day.
“I’m getting older and don’t have the energy,” said Walsh, according to this report in the Star. “It’s a young man’s sport. This job has always occupied a great deal of my time. The Pacers were always in my head. This gives me an opportunity to pay attention to my children, my grandchildren and my wife (Judy) of 58 years.”
His impact on the team and city will be missed considering his efforts with the Pacers and the City of Indianapolis played a big role in building up downtown and making it an elite events destination.
A statue of Walsh sitting, arms folded watching a player workout would be fitting at the Fieldhouse. Walsh is also up for the Naismith Hall of Fame this year as a contributor which should be a no brainer, despite Walsh’s own protestations that the Hall of Fame should only honor players and coaches.
Best wishes to Donnie Walsh in retirement which I’m sure will include watching plenty of basketball. Just on his own time now.
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