Larry Bird

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Posted by sonny 03/01/2009 @ 06:43

Tags : larry bird, former basketball players, basketball, sports

News headlines
McHale noticably absent from predraft workouts - Minneapolis Star Tribune
By JERRY ZGODA, Star Tribune NBA executives Larry Bird and Danny Ainge on Monday attended predraft workouts organized by the Timberwolves at Target Center. But former Celtics teammate Kevin McHale was missing. The Wolves held the first of four...
Larry Bird, Steven Spielberg honored at BU commencement - Boston Herald
Bird is now the president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, while Spielberg most recently directed "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." US Rep. Michael Capuano will deliver the commencement address and receive an...
Handshake Disagreement - Washington Post
And because he has, I'm hoping that Magic Johnson or Charles Barkley or Michael Jordan or Larry Bird, any one of the iconic players LeBron looks up to, will call him over the next week and very privately say: "You can't do that again....
Federer Has His Opening - San Francisco Chronicle
He's Bernard King, the unstoppable one-man show whose 1984 New York Knicks took Larry Bird's Celtics to the seven-game limit in the Eastern semifinals. He's Michael Jordan in '86, scoring 63 points at the Boston Garden but unable to carry the Bulls...
New Timberwolves president gets glowing endorsement from Larry Bird - Pioneer Press
Take it from none other than Larry Bird, who worked with Kahn with the Indiana Pacers, the Wolves got a good one. "Obviously, I'm very happy for David," Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, said Thursday. "I've never really worked...
Ortiz's efforts to snap out of it growing old - Eagle Tribune
This isn't basketball, where a great player can change his game as his athleticism erodes, like Larry Bird once did when he no longer got by people as easily as he once did, like even Michael Jordan did in his Washington Wizard years....
Celtics great Larry Bird on Boston, basketball, and coming to BU - BU Today
By Jessica Ullian Celtics legend Larry Bird, a three-time NBA champion and MVP, will receive an honorary degree at Commencement on May 17. Forget King James and Superman. Never mind the Truth or the Big Ticket. There's still only one Legend....
30 years ago, the Sonics were on top of the NBA world - Seattle Times
This was the season before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird arrived and demanded fans' attentions. And it was long before the introduction of luxury suites, $1500 courtside seats, canned, cacophonous noise and arena concourses that stretched as wide as...
The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga., Larry Fleming Column - American Chronicle
The filly, who won the Preakness by one length over Mine That Bird, won't run in the Belmont Stakes. If Mine That Bird had another 100 yards he probably would have beaten Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and had a shot at the Triple Crown....

Larry Bird

Larrybird.jpg

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is a retired American NBA basketball player, widely considered one of the best players of all time and one of the top clutch performers in the history of U.S. sports. Drafted into the NBA sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird started at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons, teaming with legendary center Robert Parish and forward Kevin McHale. Due to back problems, he retired as a player from the NBA in 1992. Bird was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. In 2003, he assumed the role of president of basketball operations for the Pacers, which he currently still holds.

Larry Bird was born in West Baden, Indiana, the son of Georgia Kerns and Claude Joseph "Joe" Bird. He grew up in both West Baden and the adjacent town French Lick, which earned him the nickname "the Hick from French Lick" in his later basketball career. Financial troubles would plague the Bird family for most of Larry's childhood. In a 1988 interview with Sports Illustrated, Bird recalled how his mother would make do on the family's meager earnings: "If there was a payment to the bank due, and we needed shoes, she'd get the shoes, and then deal with them guys at the bank. I don't mean she wouldn't pay the bank, but the children always came first." Bird sometimes was sent to live with his grandmother due to the family's struggles. Bird told Sports Illustrated that being poor as a child "motivates me to this day".

The Bird family's struggle with poverty was compounded by the alcoholism and personal difficulties of Joe Bird. In 1975, after Bird's parents divorced, his father committed suicide.

In spite of his domestic woes, by the time he was a high school sophomore, Bird had become one of the better basketball players in French Lick. He starred for French Lick/West Baden's high school team, Springs Valley High School, where he left as the school's all-time scoring leader. Bird's high school coach, Jim Jones, was a key factor to Bird's success. "Jonesie", as Bird called him, would come help Bird and his friends practice any day of the week. Bird would always be in the gym early, shoot in between classes, and then stay late into the evening. He quit both football and baseball to focus on the sport he loved, basketball.

Bird received a basketball scholarship to Indiana University in 1974. However, he was overwhelmed by the size of the campus and number of students and, as he would later admit in his biographies, wasn't mentally ready for this stage of life. Bird was also treated poorly by an established IU star, Kent Benson; as Bird recalled, the other upperclassmen of the team treated him well. He dropped out of Indiana and went home to French Lick where he enrolled in the nearby Northwood Institute before dropping out and getting a job with the Street Department (the department did pick up garbage once a week, but also repaired roads, removed snow, mowed lawns, etc.) for a year. He played AAU basketball for Hancock Construction and, after that year, decided to enroll at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, where he was coached by Bob King.

King suffered a stroke prior to the 1978–79 season and assistant Bill Hodges was promoted to head coach. Hodges had been scouting Bird and really wanted him to play for ISU. Bird led the Sycamores to the NCAA championship game in 1979, his senior season, only to lose to the Michigan State University Spartans, who were led by his future NBA rival, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The Sycamores finished the season 33–1. That year, Bird won the USBWA College Player of the Year, Naismith and Wooden Awards, given to the year's top male college basketball player. After his three seasons at Indiana State, he left as the fifth-highest scorer in NCAA history. Bird finished his collegiate career with an average of 30.3 points per game. He is on the Missouri Valley Conference All-Century Team.

The Boston Celtics selected the 6'9", 220-pound Bird 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, even though they were uncertain whether he would enter the NBA or remain at Indiana State to play his senior season. Bird ultimately decided to play his final college season, but the Celtics retained their exclusive right to sign him until the 1979 NBA Draft, because of the NBA's "junior eligible" rule that existed at that time (allowing a collegiate player to be drafted when the player's original "entering" class was graduating and giving them one calendar year to sign them, even if they went back to college). Shortly before that deadline, Bird agreed to sign with the Celtics for a US $650,000 a year contract, making him at the time the highest-paid rookie in the history of the NBA. Shortly afterwards, the NBA draft eligibility rules were changed to prevent teams from drafting players before they were ready to sign. The rule is called the Bird Collegiate Rule.

Larry Bird's impact on the Celtics was immediate. The Celtics were 29–53 during the 1978–79 season, but with Bird the team improved to 61–21 in the 1979–80 season, posting the league's best regular season record. Bird's collegiate rival, Magic Johnson, also had entered the NBA in 1979, joining the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1980, despite a strong rookie season from Johnson, Bird was named the league's Rookie of the Year and was voted onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team (an honor he would receive for each of his 12 full seasons in the NBA). For the 1980 season, Bird led the Celtics in scoring (21.3 points/game), rebounding (10.4 rebounds/game), steals (143), and minutes played (2,955) and was second in assists (4.5 assists/game) and three-pointers (58). Though Boston was beaten by the more athletic Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals that year, Bird's addition to the team had renewed the promise of Celtic glory.

Following Bird's first season, the Celtics acquired center Robert Parish and the 3rd pick in the 1980 NBA Draft via a trade with the Golden State Warriors (in exchange for the 1st and 13th picks in the draft). After the Warriors took Joe Barry Carroll with the 1st pick and the Utah Jazz chose Darrell Griffith second, the Celtics selected University of Minnesota power forward Kevin McHale. With Bird at small forward, the additions of Parish and McHale gave Boston one of the most formidable frontcourts in the history of the NBA. The three would anchor the Celtics throughout Bird's career.

In his second season, Bird led the Celtics into the playoffs, where they faced off for a second consecutive year with Julius Erving's Philadelphia 76ers. Bird helped the Celtics overcome a 3–1 deficit by winning the last 3 games by 2, 2, and 1 point margins, propelling them into the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Houston Rockets in six games with Bird averaging 15.3 points on .419 shooting, 15.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. It would be the first of three championships in Bird's career, as well as the first of his five Finals appearances.

The additions of Bird and Johnson rejuvenated the NBA, which had suffered from low attendance and minimal television interest through much of the 1970s. Immediately upon their entry into the league, the two players became repeating presences in the NBA Finals. Johnson's Lakers won the championship in 1980, Bird's Celtics captured the NBA title in 1981, and Johnson's Lakers wrested it back in 1982. Bird and Johnson first dueled in the 1979 NCAA title game; as professional basketball players, they would face off numerous times during the 1980s, including the NBA Finals of 1984, 1985 and 1987. Lakers versus Celtics, and specifically Bird versus Magic, quickly became one of the greatest rivalries in the history of professional sports.

In 1984, the Celtics defeated the Lakers in a seven-game Finals, winning game seven 111–102. Bird averaged 27.4 points on .484 shooting and 14 rebounds a game during the series, earning the award of Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP). Bird was also named the league regular season MVP for that year. In 1985, however, the Lakers avenged the loss, defeating the Celtics in game 6 of the Finals in the Boston Garden. In a losing effort against Los Angeles, Bird averaged 23.8 points on .449 shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. That year, the NBA again named Bird the league MVP.

Boston would have another great season the next year, with help from another Hall of Famer, Bill Walton. Walton had been refused by the Lakers, and as a last chance, called Celtics president and general manager Red Auerbach. Auerbach was initially unwilling to take a risk on Walton, who had been plagued for years by foot injuries. But Bird, who happened to be in Auerbach's office at the time of Walton's call, urged him to sign Walton, saying that if Walton felt he was healthy enough to play, it was all Bird needed to hear.

With Walton backing up Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the Celtics would return to the finals in 1986, albeit not against Johnson and the Lakers, who lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Houston Rockets. The 1986 Celtic team, which finished the regular season 67–15 and defeated the Rockets in six games, is generally considered to be the best of Bird's career. Bird again was named the Finals' MVP for that year, averaging 24 points on .482 shooting, 9.7 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game for the series. He also won his third consecutive league MVP award, a feat matched only by the great Celtic center Bill Russell and the dominant Wilt Chamberlain, who played for Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

In 1987, the Celtics made their last Finals appearance of Bird's career, fighting through difficult series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons but as they reached the NBA Finals, the Celtics, plagued by devastating injuries, lost to a dominant Lakers team which had won 65 games during the season. The Celtics ended up losing to the Lakers in six games, with Bird averaging 24.2 points on .445 shooting, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in the championship series. The Celtics would fall short in 1988 losing to the Pistons in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals as the Pistons made up from the heartbreak the previous season. Between them, Bird and Johnson captured eight NBA championships during the 1980s, with Magic getting five and Bird three. During the 1980s, either Boston or Los Angeles appeared in every NBA Finals.

Throughout the 1980s, contests between the Celtics and the Lakers—both during the regular season and in the Finals—attracted enormous television audiences. The first regular season game between the Celtics and the Lakers in the 1987-88 season proved to be a classic with Magic Johnson banking in an off balance shot from near the 3-point line at the buzzer for a 115-114 Lakers win at Boston Garden. The historical rift between the teams, which faced each other several times in championship series of the 1960s, fueled fan interest in the rivalry. Not since Russell squared off against Chamberlain had professional basketball enjoyed such a marquee matchup. The apparent contrast between the two players and their respective teams seemed scripted for television: Bird, the introverted small-town hero with the blue-collar work ethic, fitted perfectly with the throwback, hard-nosed style of the Celtics, while the stylish, gregarious Johnson ran the Lakers' fast-paced "Showtime" offense amidst the bright lights and celebrities of Los Angeles. A 1986 Converse commercial for its "Weapon" line of basketball shoes (endorsed by both Bird and Johnson) reflected the perceived dichotomy between the two players. In the commercial, Bird is practicing alone on a rural basketball court when Johnson pulls up in a sleek limousine and challenges him to a one-on-one match.

In 1988, Bird had the best statistical season of his career, but the Celtics failed to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in four years, losing to the Pistons in six games during the Eastern Conference Finals. Bird started the 1988–89 season with Boston, but ended his season after six games to have bone spurs surgically removed from both of his heels. He returned to the Celtics in 1989, but debilitating back problems and an aging Celtic roster prevented him from regaining his mid-1980s form. Nonetheless, through the final years of his career, Bird maintained his status as one of the premier players in the game. He averaged over 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists a game in his last three seasons with the Celtics, and shot better than 45% from the field in each. Bird led the Celtics to playoff appearances in each of those three seasons.

Bird's body, however, continued to break down. He had been bothered by back problems for years, and his back became progressively worse. After leading the Celtics to a 29-5 start to the 1990-91 season, he missed 22 games due to a compressed nerve root in his back, a condition that would eventually lead to his retirement. He had off-season surgery to remove a disc from his back, but his back problems continued and he missed 37 games during the 1991–92 season. During the 1992 Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers Bird missed 4 of 7 games in the series due to his back problems.

In the summer of 1992, Bird joined Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and other NBA stars to play for the United States basketball team in that year's Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. It was the first time in America's Olympic history that the country sent professional basketball players to compete. The "Dream Team" won the men's basketball gold medal.

Following his Olympic experience, on August 18, 1992, Bird announced his retirement as an NBA player. He finished his career with averages of more than 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists per game, while shooting 49.6% from the field, 88.6% from the free throw line and 37.6% from three-point range. Following Bird's departure, the Celtics promptly retired his jersey number "33".

In 1989, Bird published his autobiography, Drive: The Story of My Life with Bob Ryan. The book chronicles his life and career up to the 1989 NBA season.

The Celtics employed Bird as a special assistant in the team's front office from 1992 until 1997. In 1997, Bird accepted the position of coach of the Indiana Pacers. Despite having no previous coaching experience, Bird led the Pacers to an Eastern Conference championship in 2000 and two Eastern Conference runner-up finishes the previous two seasons. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year for the 1998 season.

Bird resigned as Pacers coach shortly after the end of the 2000 season. In 2003, he returned as the Pacers' President of Basketball Operations, where he oversees team personnel and coaching moves, as well as the team's draft selections.

Bird's humble roots led to his most frequently used moniker, "The Hick From French Lick". Other observers called him "The Great White Hope". In 1999, Bird ranked #30 in ESPN's SportsCentury's 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.

For the 2008 NBA Finals, which featured a rematch of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, Bird appeared in a split-screen advertisement with Magic Johnson (as part of the "There Can Only Be One" campaign which had played throughout the 2008 NBA Playoffs but to that point only featured players from the two teams competing in a given series) discussing the meaning of rivalries.

Bird, a versatile wing man who played the power forward and small forward positions, is considered as one of the greatest wing players of all time, to which his twelve All-Star team nominations are a testament. The versatile, sharpshooting Bird made his name stepping up his performance in critical situations, and is credited with a long list of dominating games, buzzer beaters and clutch defensive plays. He won two NBA Finals MVP and three regular-season MVP awards, something only five other players in the history of the NBA have accomplished. He won them all in a row, a feat only shared by Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

Bird possessed an uncanny and unparalleled ability to anticipate and react to the strategies of his opponents. His talent for recognizing the moves of opponents and teammates prompted his first coach with the Celtics, Bill Fitch, to nickname him "Kodak", because he seemed to formulate mental pictures of every play that took place on the court.

Bird scored 24.3 points per game in his career on a high .496 field goal average, a stellar .886 free throw average (9th best all-time) and a 37.6 percentage on 3-point shots. Bird was also a good rebounder (10.0 rebound career average) and an excellent playmaker (6.3 assist career average). His multidimensional game made him a consistent triple-double threat; Bird currently ranks fifth all-time in triple-doubles with 59, not including the 10 he recorded in the playoffs. Bird's lifetime player efficiency rating (PER) is 23.5, 16th all-time, a further testament to his all around game. Bird's high free throw percentage is due in no small part to the fact that when he was a boy, he used to shoot 200 free throws before school, every day, according to a late 1990s Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance commercial with Larry himself.

Bird is also remembered as an excellent defender. While he was neither fast or quick-footed, and could not always shut down an individual player one-on-one, he consistently displayed a knack for anticipating the moves of his opponent, allowing him to intercept passes and create turnovers. His 1,556 career steals ranks 27th all-time. Unspectacular but effective defensive moves, such as jumping into a passing lane to make a steal or allowing his man to step past and drive to the hoop, then blocking the opponent's shot from behind, were staples of Bird's defensive game. In recognition of his defensive abilities, Bird was named to three All-Defensive Second Teams.

Prior to attending Indiana State University, Bird married his high-school girlfriend, Janet Condra. The marriage lasted only 11 months, but produced a daughter, Corrie, born on August 14, 1977.

In 1998, Corrie Bird appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and revealed that she was Bird's daughter from his first marriage though Larry had denied paternity until the mid '80s. She discussed her longing to connect with her father, who she had not seen in 17 years. Corrie's story was also shown on 20/20 and was run as an article in the September 4, 1998 issue of Sports Illustrated. Corrie, like her father, played basketball in high school and attended Indiana State University, graduating with a degree in elementary education.

On October 31, 1989, Bird married Dinah Mattingly (Not related to New York Yankees legend and Los Angeles Dodgers coach Don Mattingly). The couple has two adopted children, son Connor and daughter Mariah.

Bird is remembered as one of the foremost clutch performers in the history of the NBA. Few players have performed as brilliantly in critical moments of games.

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One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird

Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One, more commonly known as One on One, is a 1983 computer basketball game for the early era of home computers. It was developed by Eric Hammond and published by Electronic Arts (EA) and Ariolasoft in Europe.

In this game, the player can assume the role of basketball great Julius Erving or Larry Bird in a game of one-on-one against another player or the computer. Featuring outstanding animation for its era, the game allows for play to a certain score or timed games. On offense, a player could spin or shoot; on defense, attempt to block or steal the ball, with overaggressiveness penalized by fouls. A hard dunk could shatter the backboard, prompting a janitor to come out and sweep up the shards, directing censored complaints at the player in the process.

A highly lucrative title for EA, One on One originated on the Apple II, but was ported to the Commodore 64, Amiga, Macintosh, Atari 7800, Atari ST, TRS-80 Color Computer and as a PC booter.

In 1988, the sequel Jordan vs Bird was created for the IBM PC, Sega Genesis, Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System, featuring more detailed and realistic graphics, and chance of playing slam dunk contest (with Jordan) or 3-point shootout (with Bird).

In 1993, Electronic Arts published Michael Jordan in Flight for the DOS operating system. MJ in Flight can be considered as a "revision" of the concept and gameplay of the One on One series, revamped with a new 3-on-3 team formula, featuring a 3D basketball court environment and several NBA players of the time, presented with digitized sprites, a popular graphics technology of the time.

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National Basketball Association

NBA logo depicting Jerry West

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is North America's premier professional men's basketball league, composed of thirty teams: twenty-nine in the United States and one in Canada. It is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by the International Basketball Federation as the National Governing Body (NGB) for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, which also include Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).

The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association in 1949 after merging with the rival National Basketball League (NBL). The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by the owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. On November 1, 1946, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers, which the NBA now regards as the first game played in the league's history. Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the NBL, the BAA was the first league to attempt to play primarily in large arenas in major cities. During its early years, the quality of play in the BAA was not significantly better than in competing leagues or among leading independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance, the 1948 ABL finalist Baltimore Bullets moved to the BAA and won that league's 1948 title, and the 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis Lakers won the 1949 BAA title.

On August 3, 1949, the BAA agreed to merge with the NBL, creating the new National Basketball Association. The new league had seventeen franchises located in a mix of large and small cities, as well as large arenas and smaller gymnasiums and armories. In 1950, the NBA consolidated to eleven franchises, a process that continued until 1954, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises, all of which are still in the league (the Knicks, Celtics, Warriors, Lakers, Royals/Kings, Pistons, Hawks, and Nationals/76ers).

The process of contraction saw the league's smaller-city franchises move to larger cities. The Hawks shifted from "Tri-Cities" (the area now known as the Quad Cities) to Milwaukee (in 1951) and then to St. Louis (in 1955); the Royals from Rochester to Cincinnati (in 1957); and the Pistons from Fort Wayne to Detroit (in 1957). In 1960, the Lakers relocated to Los Angeles, and the Warriors moved to San Francisco, in 1963. The following year, the Nationals left upstate New York to bring basketball back to Philadelphia, changing their nickname from "Nationals" to "76ers." This means out of the original eight franchises, only the Knicks and Celtics have not relocated at any point.

Although Japanese-American Wataru Misaka technically broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947–48 season when he played for the New York Knicks, 1950 is recognized as the year the NBA integrated. This year witnessed the addition of African American players by several teams, including Chuck Cooper with the Boston Celtics, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton with the New York Knicks, and Earl Lloyd with the Washington Capitols.

During this period, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by center George Mikan, won five NBA Championships and established themselves as the league's first dynasty. To encourage shooting and discourage stalling, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954. If a team does not attempt to score a field goal (or the ball fails to make contact with the rim) within 24 seconds of obtaining the ball, play is stopped and the ball given to its opponent.

In 1957, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already featured guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, and went on to lead the club to eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons. Center Wilt Chamberlain entered the league with the Warriors in 1959 and became the dominant individual star of the 1960s, setting new records in scoring (100) and rebounding (55). Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the great individual rivalries in the history of American team sports.

Through this period, the NBA continued to strengthen with the shift of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises. The Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) became the 9th NBA team in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, the league expanded from nine teams to fourteen, introducing the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder), San Diego Rockets (who relocated to Houston four years later), Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.

In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association. The leagues engaged in a bidding war. The NBA landed the most important college star of the era, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). However, the NBA's leading scorer, Rick Barry jumped to the ABA, as did four veteran referees—Norm Drucker, Earl Strom, John Vanak, and Joe Gushue.

The American Basketball Association also succeeded in signing a number of major stars, including Julius Erving of the Virginia Squires, in part because it allowed teams to sign college undergraduates. The NBA expanded rapidly during this period, one purpose being to tie up the most viable cities. From 1966 to 1974, the NBA grew from nine franchises to 18. In 1970 the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) all made their debuts expanding the league to 17. The New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) came aboard in 1974 bringing the total to 18. Following the 1976 season, the leagues reached a settlement that provided for the addition of four ABA franchises to the NBA, raising the number of franchises in the league at that time to 22. The franchises added were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and New York Nets (now the New Jersey Nets). Some of the biggest stars of this era were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Dave Cowens, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Dan Issel and Pete Maravich.

The league added the ABA's innovative three-point field goal beginning in 1979 to open up the game. That same year, rookies Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson joined the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, initiating a period of significant growth in fan interest in the NBA throughout the country and the world. Bird went on to lead the Celtics to three titles, and Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to five. Also in the early '80s, the NBA added one more expansion franchise, the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the total to 23 teams.

Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. This resulted in more cities demanding teams of their own. In 1988 and 1989, four cities got their wishes as the Charlotte Hornets ( New Orleans Hornets), Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Minnesota Timberwolves made their NBA debuts. A growing number of NBA star players also began coming from other countries. Initially, many of these players, such as 1994 NBA MVP Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria, first played NCAA basketball to enhance their skills.

Jordan and Scottie Pippen would lead the Bulls to six championships in eight years during the 1990s. Olajuwon won back-to-back titles with the Houston Rockets in '94 and '95, during Jordan's first retirement.

The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan as the anchor, along with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Christian Laettner.

In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada adding with the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis, which left the Raptors as the only Canadian team in the NBA.

In 1996, the NBA created a women's league, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

In 1998, the NBA owners began a lockout which lasted 191 days and was settled on January 18, 1999. As a result of this lockout the 1998-99 NBA season was reduced from 82 to 50 games. Since these games were all played in the same year, the season is known as the 1999 NBA season. San Antonio won the championship on June 25 by beating the New York Knicks.

Since the break-up of the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1998, the Western Conference has dominated the NBA, winning 7 of 10 championships. Tim Duncan and David Robinson won the 1999 championship with the San Antonio Spurs, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant started the 2000s off with the three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs reclaimed the title in 2003 against the Nets. In 2004 the Lakers returned to the Finals, only to fall to the Detroit Pistons. The following off-season, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat while the Spurs won their third championship in 2005. Miami with O'Neal won the title in 2006 against the Dallas Mavericks. The San Antonio Spurs brought the title back to the West with a Finals win in 2007 over the Cavaliers. 2008 saw a rematch of the league's highest profile rivalry, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, with Boston prevailing.

On some occasions, young players from the English-speaking world have attended U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA (notable examples are Canadian Steve Nash, 2005 and 2006 MVP, and Australians Luc Longley who won 3 Championships with the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls in the 1990's and Andrew Bogut, the top draft pick in 2005), while other international players generally come to the NBA from professional club teams. Currently, the Toronto Raptors have the most international players in the NBA. The NBA is now televised in 212 nations in 42 languages.

In 2001, an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League (or D-League) was created. Before the league was started, there were strong rumors that the NBA would purchase the CBA, and call it its developmental league, as the Continental Basketball Association was its "minor league" affiliate for years.

In 2004, two years after the Hornets relocation to New Orleans, the NBA returned to North Carolina as the Charlotte Bobcats were formed.

In 2005, the Hornets relocated to Oklahoma City for two seasons. This was required due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, the Hornets returned to New Orleans.

On June 29, 2006, a new official game ball was introduced for the 2006-07 season, marking the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second in 60 seasons. Manufactured by Spalding, the new ball featured a new design and new synthetic material that Spalding claimed offered a better grip, feel, and consistency than the original ball. However, many players were vocal in their disdain for the new ball, saying that it was too sticky when dry, and too slippery when wet.

On December 11, 2006, Commissioner Stern announced that beginning January 1, 2007, the NBA would return to the traditional leather basketball in use prior to the 2006-2007 season. The change was influenced by frequent player complaints and confirmed hand injuries (cuts) caused by the microfiber ball. The Players' Association had filed a suit in behalf of the players against the NBA over the new ball. As of 2006, the NBA team jerseys are manufactured by Adidas, which purchased the previous supplier, Reebok.

On July 19, 2007, the FBI investigated allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games he officiated over the past two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games. On August 15, 2007, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. However, he could face more charges if it is determined that he deliberately miscalled individual games.

In June 2008, it was announced that the Seattle SuperSonics would be rendered inactive and the franchise itself would relocate to Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Thunder began playing in the 2008-2009 season. This marks the third NBA franchise to relocate in the past decade.

On October 11, 2008, the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets played the first outdoor game in the modern era of the NBA at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The NBA originated in 1946 with 11 teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations currently consists of 30 teams. The United States is home to 29 teams and one is located in Canada. The Boston Celtics have won the most championships, including the most recent, with 17 NBA Finals wins. The next most successful franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 14 overall championships (9 in Los Angeles, 5 in Minneapolis). Following the Lakers are the Chicago Bulls with six championships, all of them over an 8-year span during the 1990s, and the San Antonio Spurs with four championships, all since 1999.

The current league organization divides thirty teams into two conferences of three divisions with five teams each. The current divisional alignment was introduced in the 2004-05 season.

Following the summer break, teams hold training camps in October. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 12-man active roster (and a 3-man inactive list) with which they will begin the regular season. Teams have the ability to assign players with less than two years of experience to the NBA development league. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The NBA regular season begins in the first week of November. During the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year (16 games), teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times (36 games), and teams in the other conference twice apiece (30 games). This asymmetrical structure means the strength of schedule will vary significantly between teams.

As of 2008, the NBA is one of only three major leagues in North America (besides the Canadian Football League) in which teams play every other team during the regular season (the others being the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer). Each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season. However, this results in each team playing nearly double the number of games against teams from the opposite conference (30) as teams in their own division (16).

In February, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans vote throughout the United States, Canada, and on the internet, and the top vote-getters at each position in each conference are given a starting spot on their conference's All-Star team. Coaches vote to choose the remaining 14 All-Stars. Then, Eastern conference players face the Western conference players in the All-Star game. The player with the best performance during the game is rewarded with a Game MVP award. Other attractions of the All-Star break include the Rookie Challenge, which pits the best rookies and the best second-year players against each other; the Skills Challenge, a competition between players to see who could complete an obstacle course comprising shooting, passing and dribbling in the fastest time; the Three Point Contest, a competition between players to see who is the best three-point shooter; and the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, to see which player dunks the ball in the most entertaining way. These other attractions have varying names which include the names of the various sponsors who have paid for naming rights.

Shortly after the All-Star break, the trading deadline falls on the second to last Thursday in February at 3pm Eastern Time. After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Around the end of April, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards, as well as the selection of the honorary, league-wide, post-season teams. The Sixth Man of the Year Award is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award is awarded to the league's best defender. The Coach of the Year Award is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award is given to player deemed the most valuable for (his team) that season. Additionally, The Sporting News awards an unofficial (but widely recognized) Executive of the Year Award to the general manager who is adjudged to have performed the best job for the benefit of his franchise.

The post-season teams are the All-NBA Team, the All-Defensive Team, and the All-Rookie Team; each consists of five players. There are three All-NBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There are also two All-Rookie teams, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.

The NBA Playoffs begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference going for the Championship. The three division winners, along with the team with the next best record from the conference are given the top four seeds. The next four teams in terms of record are given the lower four seeds.

Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed begins the playoffs playing against the eighth seed, the second seed plays the seventh seed, the third seed plays the sixth seed, and the fourth seed plays the fifth seed, having a higher seed means a team faces a weaker team in the first round. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage, including the First Round. This means that, for example, if the team who receives the 6 (six) seed has a better record than the team with the 3 (three) seed (by virtue of a divisional championship), the 6 seed would have home court advantage, even though the other team has a higher seed. Therefore, the team with the best regular season record in the league is guaranteed home court advantage in every series it plays. For example, in 2006, the Denver Nuggets won 44 games and captured the Northwest Division and the #3 seed. Their opponent was the #6 seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Although Denver won its much weaker division, the Clippers had home-court advantage and won the series in five games.

The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays a rival in a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. In the next round, the successful team plays against another advancing team of the same conference. All but one team in each conference are eliminated from the playoffs. Since the NBA does not re-seed teams, the playoff bracket in each conference uses a traditional design, with the winner of the series matching the 1st and 8th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 4th and 5th seeded teams, and the winner of the series matching the 2nd and 7th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 3rd and 6th seeded teams. In every round except the NBA Finals, the best of seven series follows a 2-2-1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 6. For the final round (NBA Finals), the series follows a 2-3-2 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 5. The 2-3-2 pattern in the NBA Finals has been in place since 1985.

The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals, and is held annually in June. The victor in the NBA Finals wins the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. Each player and major contributor -- including coaches and the general manager -- on the winning team receive a championship ring. In addition, the league awards a Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award to the best performing player of the series.

On August 2, 2006, the NBA announced the new playoff format. The new format takes the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record and rank them 1-4 by record. The other 4 slots are filled by best record other than those other 4 teams. Previously, the top three seeds went to the division winners.

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Dennis Johnson

In 1991, the Boston Celtics retired a number-3 jersey with Dennis Johnson's name.

Dennis Wayne Johnson (September 18, 1954 – February 22, 2007), nicknamed "DJ", was an American professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics and coach of the Austin Toros of the National Basketball Association Development League. He is an alumnus of Dominguez High School, Los Angeles Harbor College and Pepperdine University.

A prototypical latebloomer, the 6'4" Johnson overcame early struggles and had a successful NBA player career. Playing the roles of shooting guard in his first years before becoming a point guard with the Celtics, he won three NBA championships, winning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in the 1979 NBA Finals, was voted into five All-Star Teams, in one All-NBA First and one Second Team, and into nine straight All-Defensive First and Second Teams. Apart from his reputation as a defensive stopper, Johnson was known as a clutch player who made several decisive plays in NBA Finals history.

For his feats, the Celtics franchise has retired Johnson's number-3 jersey, which hangs from the rafters of the TD Banknorth Garden. Despite his performances, Johnson was denied induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and is therefore considered by several sports journalists as one of the most underrated players of all time.

Dennis Wayne Johnson was born in a big family, being the eighth of sixteen children of a social worker and a bricklayer who lived in Compton, California. Originally a big baseball fan and a Little Leaguer, Johnson Jr. learned basketball from his father, but seemed to neither have the size nor the talent to keep up with his peers: as a teenager at Dominguez High School, Johnson Jr. measured just 5'9" and only played "a minute or two each game". After high school, he took on several odd jobs, among them a $2.75-per-hour job as a forklift driver, and played with his brothers in summer league games only after work. In this time, Johnson experienced a growth spurt and grew to a height of 6'3", and developed legs which nba.com later described as "rocket launcher legs" which enabled him jump high to grab rebounds against taller opponents.

Jim White, the coach at Los Angeles Harbor College, watched Johnson playing street basketball, discovered he excelled in defense and asked him to enroll. Johnson gave up his odd jobs and blossomed into a promising young guard, averaging 18.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per game and leading Harbor to a college junior state title. However, the young guard also showed a lack of discipline, often clashing with White and being thrown out of the team three times in two years. This was a trait which would follow him through the next years of his career.

At the end of his junior college career, only two universities offered Johnson scholarships, namely Azusa Pacific and Pepperdine University. Johnson chose the latter, and in his only year in college, he averaged 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, and developed a reputation for tough defense. After that year, Johnson made himself eligible for the 1976 NBA Draft, but was skeptical whether any team would take him. In addition, as Johnson was known as a troublemaker, several universities were wary to take a player with character issues.

In the second round of that draft, the Seattle SuperSonics took Johnson with the 29th pick and was given a four-year contract which started with a salary of $45,000 in year one and ended with $90,000 in the last year. In his rookie year, the 1976-77 NBA season, the now 6'4" tall guard played backup to the experienced Sonics backcourt tandem of Slick Watts and Fred Brown and averaged 9.2 points and 1.5 assists per game. However, the Sonics finished with a mediocre 40-42 record and missed the 1977 NBA Playoffs, causing head coach Bill Russell to resign. In the following 1977-78 NBA season, his replacement Bob Hopkins lost 17 of the first 22 games, and after this disastrous start, he was replaced by Hall-of-Fame coach Lenny Wilkens, who gave Johnson a starting spot and paired him with Gus Williams. Johnson thrived in this new role, improving his averages to 12.7 points and 2.8 assists per game. Remarkable about this period was the fact that Johnson played shooting guard and was then known for his aggressive slam dunking, in contrast to the more cerebral roles he played later in his career. It was at this time that Johnson's nickname "DJ" was coined by play-by-play announcer Bob Blackburn, to help distinguish him from fellow starter John Johnson (whom Blackburn referred to as "JJ").

After an impressive finish, the Sonics ended the regular season with a 47-35 record and entered the 1978 NBA Playoffs. After eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers, the defending champions Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets, they almost defeated the Washington Bullets by taking a 3-2 lead in the 1978 NBA Finals. In a 93-92 Game 3 victory, Johnson blocked seven shots - the most blocks in NBA Finals history for a visiting player. However, the Sonics lost in seven games, partly due to Johnson's horrible Game 7 scoring drought, where the sophomore guard missed all of his 14 field goal attempts. Johnson later acknowledged he simply "choked", vowed never to repeat this again and thus credited this game as an important lesson to become a better player.

The next year, Johnson and the Sonics got their revenge. In the 1978-79 NBA season, Johnson established himself as one of the best guards in the league, averaging 15.9 points and 3.5 assists per game, being elected in the All-Defensive First Team and into his first of five All-Star games. Winning the Pacific Division with a strong 52-30 record, the Sonics powered their way into the 1979 NBA Finals where they met the Bullets again. After losing Game 1, the Sonics won the next four games and took the finals series, helped by an inspired Johnson, who averaged almost 23 points along with six rebounds and assists per game. He scored 32 points in an Game 4 overtime victory, and was finally named NBA Finals MVP.

However, the tide turned against Johnson in the following season. Despite another strong season in which he averaged 19.0 points and 4.1 assists, was voted an All-Star and a member of the All-Defensive First Team again and was elected into the All-NBA Second Team for the first time, the Sonics lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers of Hall-of-Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Due to the abundance of talent on the losing Sonics team, Johnson later called this loss one of the worst disappointments of his professional career. In addition, coach Wilkens grew tired of his guard, who often clashed with him and was perceived as a growing liability for the team. As a consequence, Johnson was then traded to the Phoenix Suns for Paul Westphal and draft picks. As a testament to Johnson's importance for the team, the Sonics finished 22 games worse in the next season despite the addition of Westphal.

In Phoenix, Johnson further established himself as a quality player. In his three years as a Sun, Johnson averaged 14-20 points a game and played smothering defense, becoming a two-time All-Star, was voted into three consecutive All-Defense First Teams and made his only All-NBA First Team appearance. In this period, Johnson played shooting guard and became the main scorer of his teams as opposed to being second or third option as a Sonic.

In his stint, the Suns had two fairly successful years, reaching the Western Conference Semifinals twice before disappointingly bowing out in the first round in Johnson's last year. This also reflected Johnson's deteriorating situation in Phoenix. Like in Seattle, he often clashed with coach John MacLeod, and was finally traded by general manager Jerry Colangelo to the Boston Celtics for Rick Robey and draft picks. However, much like in Seattle after DJ's departure, the Suns finished 12 games worse in the next season despite the addition of Robey.

Prior to the 1983-84 NBA season, the Celtics had repeatedly lost in the previous NBA Playoffs campaigns to the Philadelphia 76ers, mainly because physical Sixers guard Andrew Toney routinely caused problems for their defensively fragile backcourt. Thus, Celtics general manager Red Auerbach added the perennial All-Defense Team member Johnson to his squad. Johnson joined a squad led by Hall-of-Fame forward Larry Bird, who played in the frontcourt with two fellow Hall-of-Famers, center Robert Parish and forward Kevin McHale, a combination often called the best frontcourt of all time by the NBA. Johnson described it as a "dream come true" and enjoyed the tutelage of highly successful Celtics general manager Auerbach, who was "living history" according to Johnson.

With the Celtics, Johnson changed his playing style for the third time in his career: after being known as a slam dunking shooting guard with the Sonics, and an all-around scorer with the Suns, he now established himself as a point guard who defined more by playmaking than scoring. In his first year as a Celtic, he averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 assists and was elected to the All-Defensive Second Team. The Celtics reached the 1984 NBA Finals, where they met the Los Angeles Lakers, their intense rivals since the 1960s. The Celtics won 4-3, and Johnson took credit for playing smothering defense on Hall-of-Fame Lakers playmaker Magic Johnson, limiting him to a sub-average 17 points in the last four games, and being at least partly responsible for several of the Laker point guard's game-deciding errors in Games 2, 4 and 7. As a result, Magic Johnson was from that moment on taunted as "Tragic Johnson" whenever Lakers and Celtics played against each other.

In the following 1984-85 NBA season, Johnson continued playing smothering defense, earning his next All-Defensive Second Team call-up while averaging 16.9 points and 7.3 assists per game. The Celtics went into the 1985 NBA Finals, and met the Lakers again. Johnson's big moment came in Game 4: when the score was tied 105-105, teammate Larry Bird had the ball in the last seconds. Being double-teamed by Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, Bird passed out to the open Johnson, and the guard sank a 19-foot (5.8 m) buzzer beater which won the game. However, the Lakers took their revenge this time, winning the series in six games, powered by venerable 38-year old Finals MVP Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson described this loss as one of the toughest ever, because the Celtics were "close " but "could not get the job done".

In 1986, the Celtics came back. Helped by the performance of Johnson, who made the All-Defense Second Team again while scoring 17.8 points and 6.7 assists per game, the Celtics reached the 1986 NBA Finals against the up-and-coming Houston Rockets, led by the "Twin Towers" of centers Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. Led by Finals MVP Larry Bird, the Celtics beat the Rockets 4-2, and Johnson won his third title.

The Celtics were unable to repeat their title in 1987 despite several dramatic playoff victories. Johnson played strong defense again, earning yet another All-Defensive Second Team call-up, and the Celtics embarked on a nail-biting playoff campaign.

In the 1987 NBA Finals however, the Celtics succumbed to their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, with 2-4 because Lakers playmaker and Finals MVP Magic Johnson was unstoppable.

In the next 1987-88 NBA season, the veteran Johnson averaged 12.6 points and 7.8 assists, but in the 1988 Playoffs, the aging Celtics were unable to beat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The next two seasons were disappointing for the aging Celtics. In the 1988-89 NBA season, Johnson (who statistically declined to 10.0 points and 6.6 assists per game) and his team made the 1989 NBA Playoffs on a meagre 42-40 record, but immediately were eliminated in the first round. The following 1989-90 NBA season was Johnson's last. The now 35 year old playmaker relinquished his starting point guard role to younger John Bagley, but when Bagley dislocated his shoulder, Johnson played "rejuvenated" and was lovingly called "our glue man" by coach Jimmy Rodgers. In his last season, Johnson started in 65 of his 75 games, averaged 7.1 points and 6.5 assists, but the aging Celtics failed to survive the first round of the 1990 NBA Playoffs.

Johnson retired prior to the 1990-91 NBA season. On his retirement ceremony, his perennial Los Angeles Lakers opponent Magic Johnson telegraphed him and lauded him as "the greatest backcourt defender of all time". In addition, Celtics colleague and triple NBA Most Valuable Player award winner Larry Bird called Johnson the best teammate he ever had.

After retiring as a player, Johnson at first became scout for the Celtics in 1993. In the same year, Johnson was made assistant coach of the Boston Celtics, a position he held until 1997. After spending several years outside the limelight, he returned as a coach for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003, coached the last 24 games after the departure of Alvin Gentry and was then scout for the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2004, Johnson was named head coach of the NBADL Florida Flames before becoming coach of the NBADL Austin Toros in 2005, a position he held until his death two years later.

In 1,100 games, Johnson scored 15,535 points, grabbed 4,249 rebounds and gave 5,499 assists, translating to career averages of 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Known as a defensive stalwart, he was elected into nine straight All-Defensive First and Second Teams, and is acknowledged by the NBA as a "money player" who was clutch in decisive moments, such as playing smothering defense on Magic Johnson in the 1984 NBA Finals, converting a last-second layup in Game 4 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals after a Larry Bird steal, and most importantly winning the 1979 NBA Finals MVP award.

Furthermore, Johnson is lauded by the NBA as a versatile all-around weapon who played with "contagious competitiveness" and was known for his durability: in 14 NBA seasons, he played in 1,100 of a possible 1,148 games and participated in 180 playoff games, the latter figure the 11th highest number of all time. At his retirement, Johnson was only the 11th NBA player to amass more than 15,000 points and 5,000 assists.

On December 13, 1991, the Celtics franchise retired his number-3 jersey. Johnson described the experience as "special feeling" and said he will always be a Boston Celtic. However, Johnson did not live to see an induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a fact that has been a considerable point of debate with sports journalists. Bill Simmons of ESPN called his Hall of Fame snub an "ongoing injustice", stating that according to him, Joe Dumars – Hall of Famer known for strong defense rather than spectacular scoring, like Johnson – was no better than him. Also colleague Ken Shouler called Johnson "one of the first guys I'd give a Hall pass". Contemporary Boston Celtics Hall-of-fame forward Larry Bird in any case gave Johnson ultimate praise, calling him the best teammate he ever had in his biography Drive.

On October 26, 2007, a learning center was dedicated in Johnson's name in the Central Branch of the YMCA of Greater Boston. The center was made possible by the donations and effort of Larry Bird and M.L. Carr. Johnson's family, Danny Ainge, Carr, and members of YMCA and local community were present for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Dennis Johnson was married to Donna, his wife of 31 years, and had three children named Dwayne, Denise and Daniel. During his life, Johnson was also known for his unusual outward appearance: despite being African-American, he had freckles and reddish hair. Known as a troublemaker early in his professional career, On October 21, 1997 he was arrested and later charged with aggravated assault for a domestic incident in which he allegedly held a knife to his wife's throat and threatened his children, but the marriage survived this incident.

On February 22, 2007, at the Austin Convention Center, Johnson had a heart attack and collapsed at the end of the Toros' practice. After being rushed to a nearby hospital, he could not be revived and was later pronounced dead. Johnson was survived by his wife and his three children. Johnson's death was met with shock throughout the NBA. Among others, contemporary Celtics colleague Danny Ainge called him one of "the most underrated players of all time and one of the greatest Celtics acquisitions", and one-time rival Bill Laimbeer called him "a great player on a great ballclub".

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Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers logo

The Indiana Pacers are a professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team is based in the state's capital and largest city, Indianapolis, Indiana, located in the center of the state. The Indiana Fever of the WNBA, also owned by Melvin & Herb Simon, are the Pacers' sister team and play at Conseco Fieldhouse as well. The Indiana Pacers also have 2 mascots at every home game, Boomer and Bowser, who also appear often for the NBA .

In early 1967, a group of six investors (among them attorney Richard Tinkham, sports agent Chuck Barnes and Indianapolis Star sports writer Bob Collins) pooled their resources to purchase a franchise in the proposed American Basketball Association.

According to Indianapolis attorney, Richard Tinkham, the nickname “Pacers” was decided on through a collective decision of the original investors. Tinkham, one of those investors, recalled that the nickname was a combination of the state’s rich history with the harness racing pacers and the pace car used for the running of the Indianapolis 500. Investor Chuck Barnes was a horse racing enthusiast in addition to being business manager of Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Rodger Ward. Barnes' wife, Lois, suggested the name over dinner.

Tinkham said the “Pacers” decision was an easy one, but the real debate was whether the team should be called the Indiana Pacers or the Indianapolis Pacers. Since one of the original ideas for the team was to have it playing throughout the state with its base in Indianapolis, the official team name became the Indiana Pacers.

For their first seven years, they played in the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, now called the Pepsi Coliseum. In 1974, they moved to the plush new Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis, where they stayed for 25 years.

Early in the Pacers' second season, former Indiana Hoosiers standout Bob "Slick" Leonard became the team's head coach, replacing Larry Staverman. Leonard quickly turned the Pacers into a juggernaut. His teams were buoyed by the great play of superstars such as Jimmy Rayl, Mel Daniels, George McGinnis, Bob Netolicky, Rick Mount and Roger Brown. The Pacers were the most successful team in ABA history, winning three ABA Championships in four years. In all, they appeared in the ABA Finals five times in the league's nine year history.

The Pacers were one of four ABA teams that joined the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. For the 1976-77 season the Pacers were joined in the merged league by the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs of the ABA. Financially, the Pacers were by far the weakest of the four ABA refugees. Indeed, they were on far weaker financial footing than the team acknowledged to be the last ABA team left out of the expansion, the Kentucky Colonels. Although it has never been confirmed, it appeared the Pacers made the cut because Indianapolis was a far more lucrative television market than Louisville, home of the Colonels.

The Pacers' financial troubles dated back to their waning days in the ABA; they already begun selling off some of their star players in the last ABA season. They were further weakened by the price required to join the NBA. The league charged a $3.2 million dollar entry fee to each former ABA team. Because the NBA would only agree to accept four ABA teams in the ABA-NBA merger, the Pacers and the three other surviving ABA teams also had to compensate the two remaining ABA franchises which were not a part of the merger. The new NBA teams also were barred from sharing in national TV revenues for four years.

As a result of the steep price they paid to join the NBA, the Pacers were in a dire financial situation. It took a $100,000 contribution from a group of local businesses to keep the franchise going through June 1977. The team announced that unless season-ticket sales reached 8,000 by the end of July 1977, the club would be sold to someone who might take the franchise elsewhere. WTTV, which was the television flagship for Pacers' games at the time, offered to hold a 16.5 hour telethon to keep the team in Indiana. The telethon began on the night of July 3, 1977, and the next day, 10 minutes before the show was set to go off the air, it was announced that team officials had reached the 8,000-ticket goal. In part because of the telethon, the Pacers' average attendance jumped from 7,615 during the 1976-77 season to 10,982 during the 1977-78 season.

They finished their inaugural NBA season with a record of 36-46, as Billy Knight and Don Buse were invited to represent Indiana in the NBA All-Star Game. This was one of the few highlights of the Pacers' first 13 years in the league--a time in which they had but one winning season and just two playoff appearances. A lack of year-to-year continuity became the norm for most of the next decade, as they traded away Knight and Buse before the 1977-78 season even started. They acquired Adrian Dantley in exchange for Knight, but Dantley (who was averaging nearly 27 points per game at the time) was traded in December, while the Pacers' second-leading scorer, John Williamson, was dealt in January.

As a result of their poor performance, the Pacers needed to resort to publicity stunts to attract fans' attention. Before the 1979 season started, they offered women's basketball star Ann Meyers a tryout contract and invited her to the team's training camp. She became the first and, to this date, only woman to try out for an NBA team, but did not make the final squad.

During this time, the Pacers came out on the short end of two of the most one-sided trades in NBA history. In 1980, they traded Alex English to the Nuggets in order to reacquire former ABA star George McGinnis. McGinnis was long past his prime, and contributed very little during his two-year return. English, in contrast, went on to become one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. The next year, they traded a 1984 draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Tom Owens. Owens only played one year for the Pacers with little impact. This trade looked even more horrendous three years later. In 1983-84, the Pacers finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference, which would have given the Pacers the second overall pick in the draft. As a result of the Owens trade, they were left as bystanders in the midst of one of the deepest drafts in NBA history--including such future stars as Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.

The Pacers made their first appearance in the NBA Playoffs in 1980-81, falling in the opening round to the Philadelphia 76ers in two straight games. It was the team's only playoff appearance from 1977 to 1986.

Clark Kellogg was drafted by the Pacers in the 1982 and showed tremendous promise, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting, but the Pacers finished the 1982-83 season with their all-time worst record of 20-62, and won only 26 games the following season. After winning 22 games in 1984-85 and 26 games in 1985-86, Jack Ramsay replaced George Irvine as coach and led the Pacers to a 41-41 record in 1986-87 and only their second playoff appearance as an NBA team. Chuck Person, nicknamed "The Rifleman" for his renowned long-range shooting, led the team in scoring as a rookie and won NBA Rookie of the Year honors. Their first playoff win in NBA franchise history was earned in Game 3 of their first-round, best-of-five series against the Atlanta Hawks, but it was their only victory in that series, as the Hawks defeated them in four games.

Reggie Miller was drafted by the Pacers in 1987, beginning his career as a backup to John Long. Many fans at the time disagreed with Miller's selection over Indiana Hoosiers' standout Steve Alford. The Pacers missed the playoffs in 1987-88, drafted Rik Smits in the 1988 NBA Draft, and suffered through a disastrous 1988-89 season in which coach Jack Ramsay stepped down following an 0-7 start. Mel Daniels and George Irvine filled in on an interim basis before Dick Versace took over the 6-23 team on the way to a 28-54 finish. In February 1989, the team did manage to make a trade that would eventually pay off, as they traded veteran center Herb Williams to the Dallas Mavericks for future NBA 6th Man-of-the Year Detlef Schrempf.

In 1989-90 the Pacers parlayed a fast start into the team's third NBA Playoffs appearance. But the Pacers lost all three games in their 1990 NBA Playoffs experience, falling to the Detroit Pistons, who would go on to win their second consecutive NBA Championship. Reggie Miller became the first Pacer to play on the All-Star team since 1976 on the strength of his 24.6 points-per-game average.

In 1990-91, the Pacers returned to the playoffs with a 41-41 record, and Schrempf was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. Bob Hill was head coach at this time. The Pacers had a memorable series against the highly favored Boston Celtics that they managed to extend to five games before losing Game 5, 124-121, with Larry Bird hosting one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. The Pacers returned to the playoffs in 1991-92 and met the Celtics again, but this time the Celtics left no doubt who was better as they swept the Pacers in three straight games.

Chuck Person and point guard Micheal Williams were traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason, and the Pacers got Pooh Richardson and Sam Mitchell in return. For the 1992-93 season, Detlef Schrempf moved from sixth man to the starter at small forward and was elected to his first All-Star game. Miller, meanwhile, became the Pacers' all-time NBA era leading scorer during this season (4th overall). The Pacers returned to the playoffs with a 41-41 record, but lost to the New York Knicks in the first round, three games to one.

Larry Brown was brought on as Pacers' coach for the 1993-94 season, and Pacers' general manager Donnie Walsh completed a highly-criticized (at the time) trade as he sent Schrempf to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for Derrick McKey and little known Gerald Paddio. But the Pacers, who began the season in typically average fashion, kicked it up a notch in April, winning their last eight games of the season to finish with a franchise-high 47 wins. They stormed past Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic in a first-round sweep to earn their first NBA playoff series win, and pulled off a tremendous upset by defeating the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Semifinals.

It was during the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals that the Pacers—particularly Reggie Miller—finally became a household name. With the series tied 2-2 going into game 5 in New York, Miller had the first of many legendary playoff performances. With the Pacers trailing the Knicks by 15 points early in the 4th quarter, Miller scored 25 points in the 4th quarter, including five 3-point field goals. Miller also famously flashed the choke sign to Knick fans while leading the Pacers to the improbable come from behind victory. The Knicks ultimately came back to win the next two games and the series, but Reggie became an NBA superstar overnight. Miller was a tri-captain and leading scorer of the USA Basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championship.

Mark Jackson joined the team in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, giving the team the steady hand at the point guard position that had been lacking in recent years. The Pacers enjoyed a 52-30 campaign in 1994-95, giving them their first Central Division title and their first 50+ win season since the ABA days. The team swept the Hawks in the first round, before another meeting with the rival Knicks in the conference semi-finals. Once again, it was up to Reggie Miller to provide some fireworks. This time, with the Pacers down six points with 16.4 seconds remaining in game one, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to help secure the two point victory. The Pacers ultimately dispatched the Knicks in seven games and pushed the Magic to seven games before falling in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Pacers duplicated their 52-30 record in 1995-96, but were hurt severely by an injury to Reggie Miller's eye socket in April, from which he was not able to return until Game 5 of their first-round series against the Hawks. Reggie scored 29 points in that game, but the Hawks came away with a two-point victory to put an early end to Indiana's season. This 1995-96 team did manage to go down in history as the only team to defeat the Chicago Bulls twice that year, a Bulls team which made history with an all-time best 72-10 record.

The Pacers could not withstand several key injuries in 1996-97, nor could they handle the absence of Mark Jackson, who had been traded to the Denver Nuggets before the season (though they did re-acquire Jackson at the trading deadline). The Pacers finished 39-43 and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years, after which coach Larry Brown stepped down.

The Pacers selected Larry Bird to coach the team in 1997-98 and they posted a new franchise record, finishing 58-24--a dramatic 19-game improvement from the previous season. Chris Mullin joined the team in the offseason and immediately became a valuable part of the Pacers lineup-- and their starting small forward. Assistant coaches Rick Carlisle, in charge of the offense, and Dick Harter, who coached the defense, were key in getting the most out of the Pacers' role players such as Dale Davis, Antonio Davis and Derrick McKey. Reggie Miller and Rik Smits both made the All-Star team that year, and in the playoffs, the Pacers breezed past the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks before falling to the Chicago Bulls in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference Final.

In the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, the Pacers won the Central Division with a 33-17 record and swept the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers before falling to the New York Knicks in a six-game Eastern Conference Finals series. The Pacers traded popular forward Antonio Davis to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for first-round draft choice Jonathan Bender, which remains to this day a subject of controversy among Pacers fans. But in the Playoffs, after a 56-26 regular season, the Pacers survived the upset-minded Bucks in round one, handled the 76ers in the second round and finally broke through to the NBA Finals by virtue of a six-game East Finals victory over the New York Knicks.

Their first NBA Finals appearance was against the Los Angeles Lakers, who proved too much for them to handle as they ended Indiana's championship hopes in six games. However, the Pacers dealt Los Angeles their worst playoff defeat up to that time by a margin of 33 points in Game Five.

The offseason brought sweeping changes to the Pacers' lineup, as Rik Smits and coach Larry Bird retired, Chris Mullin returned to his old Golden State Warriors team, Mark Jackson signed a long-term contract with Toronto, and Dale Davis was traded to Portland for Jermaine O'Neal, who went on to average 12.9 points per game in his first year as a starter. It was a rebuilding year for the Pacers under new head coach Isiah Thomas, but the team still managed to return to the playoffs, where they lost to the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in four games.

In the midseason of 2001-02, the Pacers made a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bulls that sent Jalen Rose and Travis Best to Chicago in exchange for Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Kevin Ollie and Ron Mercer. Brad Miller and Ron Artest would, in the next few years, go on to be All-Stars for the Pacers. The trade bolstered a team that had been floundering, and the Pacers managed to return to the playoffs, where they pushed the top-seeded New Jersey Nets to five games before losing Game 5 in double overtime. Jermaine O'Neal made his first of what would be several All-Star appearances this year, erasing any doubt that trading the veteran workhorse, Dale Davis, to Portland for him was a good idea.

The Pacers got off to a 13-2 start in 2002-03, but hit the wall after the All-Star break thanks in no small part to Ron Artest's multiple suspensions and family tragedies befalling Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Austin Croshere. O'Neal and Brad Miller both made the All-Star team and the Pacers made a substantial improvement as they finished 48-34, but they suffered a loss to the underdog Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

In the 2003 offseason, the Pacers managed to re-sign O'Neal for the NBA maximum and inked Reggie Miller to a modest two-year deal, but they could not afford to keep their talented center, Brad Miller. He was dealt to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Scot Pollard, who spent much of the following year watching from the bench and backing up Jeff Foster. But the Pacers signed Larry Bird as team president, and Bird wasted little time in dismissing coach Isiah Thomas and replacing him with Rick Carlisle.

The Pacers responded to Carlisle extremely well, and had a breakthrough 2003-04 season in which they finished 61-21, earning the best record in the NBA as well as a franchise record. O'Neal and Artest made the All-Star team, and Artest was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

The Pacers swept the Boston Celtics easily in the first round, and squeezed by a scrappy Miami Heat team in the conference semi-finals. But the Detroit Pistons proved an impediment to Indiana's championship aspirations, as they defeated the Pacers in six games on their way to the NBA Championship.

Al Harrington, a small forward who had established himself as one of the best sixth-men in the NBA, was dealt in the offseason to the Atlanta Hawks in return for Stephen Jackson after Harrington allegedly demanded that the Pacers start him or trade him.

Nevertheless, the Pacers started off the 2004-05 season in extremely strong fashion–until the infamous events of November 19, 2004.

Several of the involved players were suspended by NBA Commissioner David Stern, but the hardest hit were Artest (suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs), Jackson (suspended for 30 games), O'Neal (25 games), Wallace (6 games) and the Pacers' Anthony Johnson (5 games) (O'Neal's suspension was later reduced to 15 games by arbitrator Roger Kaplan, a decision that was upheld by U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels). O'Neal was charged with two counts of assault and battery, while Artest, Jackson, Johnson and David Harrison were charged with one count each.

After the brawl and riot that followed, the Pacers fell downward into the Central Division. They went from a legitimate title contender to a team that hovered around .500 in winning percentage. The Pistons eventually became the Central Division champions. Despite the difficulties with the suspensions and injuries, the Pacers earned a sixth seed in the playoffs with a record of 44-38. An important reason for their strong finish was the re-acquisition of Dale Davis, who had been released by New Orleans after being traded there by Golden State. He played the final 25 games of the regular season and every playoff game, contributing a strong presence at center. And Davis' signing coincided with an injury to Jermaine O'Neal that would knock him out for virtually the remainder of the regular season—indeed, O'Neal's first missed game due to his injury was Davis' first game back with the Pacers.

So despite the adversity they had gone through, the Pacers made the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years. In the first round, Indiana defeated the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics in seven games, winning Game 7 in Boston by the decisive margin of 97-70.

The Pacers then advanced to the second-round against the Detroit Pistons, in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals. The series featured games back at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the scene of the brawl that many assumed at the time had effectively ended the Pacers' season. After losing game 1, the Pacers won the next two games to take a 2-1 lead. However, the Pacers could not repeat their victories against the Pistons and lost the next 3 games, losing the series 4-2.

The final game (game 6) was on May 19, 2005; Reggie Miller, in his final NBA game, scored 27 points and received a huge standing ovation from the crowd. Despite Miller's effort, the Pacers lost, sending Miller into retirement without an NBA Championship in his 18-year career, all with the Pacers. Miller had his #31 jersey retired by the Pacers on March 30, 2006 when the Pacers played the Phoenix Suns.

The Pacers made a major move for the 2005-06 season by signing Šarūnas Jasikevičius, the floor leader of two-time defending Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel Aviv.

In 2005, the Pacers got off to an average start. On December 10, 2005, Ron Artest told a reporter for the Indianapolis Star that he wanted to be traded, saying "the team would be better off without me". Various Pacers, including Jermaine O'Neal, soon denounced him, as O'Neal did not want to talk about it. On December 12, the Pacers placed Artest on their inactive list and began seeking a trade for the troubled star. On December 16, the NBA fined Ron Artest $10,000 for publicly demanding a trade, which is similar to "degrading the league".

After that, the team had gone on a 9-12 tailspin and was 22-22, a far cry from the beginning where people mentioned that the Pacers would be one of the NBA's elite. On January 24, 2006, it was said that Artest would be traded to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic, when the trade was declined suddenly. The following day, however, the trade was accepted, and Indiana finally cut ties with the troubled All-Star. On February 1, 2006, they managed to beat the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, keeping the high-scorer below his average. Jermaine O'Neal was also sidelined with a torn left groin and missed two months. The Pacers finished the season 41-41.

Despite the Artest saga and many key injuries the Pacers made the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 years. They also were the only road team to win Game 1 of a first-round playof series.. However New Jersey won game 2 to tie the series at 1-1 heading back to Indiana. In game 3 Jermaine O'Neal scored 37 points as the Pacers regained a 2-1 series lead. The Nets, however, won games four and five to take a 3-2 series lead. In Game 6 Anthony Johnson scored 40 points but the Pacers' season came to an end as the Nets won 96-90.

The 2006 offseason saw big changes to the Pacers roster. They drafted Shawne Williams and James White . Additionally on July 1, 2006 they completed a sign-and-trade with starting small forward Peja Stojakovic to the New Orleans Hornets for a $100 million (sic) trade exception. . The trade raised questions around the league, as Stojakovic was a free agent and did not need to be traded for. Some believe the Hornets made the trade so the Pacers could use the exception to re-acquire Al Harrington in a sign-and-trade, keeping the top free agent away from the Western Conference. On August 22 the Pacers completed the trade for Harrington and John Edwards in exchange for a future first round pick.

In July, forward Austin Croshere was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for guard/forward Marquis Daniels . The Pacers also made another trade with the Mavericks acquiring Darrell Armstrong, Rawle Marshall, and Josh Powell in exchange for Anthony Johnson .

The team lost Fred Jones and Scot Pollard via free agency, to the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively.

Another move saw the Pacers sign Euro League Player Maceo Baston who previously teamed with former Pacer Sarunas Jasikevicius on Israeli's premier team, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

However, the "restoration project" took a major image hit when player Stephen Jackson and some teammates decided to visit a strip club on October 6, 2006. Upon leaving the club, Jackson was involved in an argument during which he was hit by a car. In response, Stephen pulled a gun out and fired off a warning shot.

The Pacers finished the 2006-2007 season as one of the worst seasons in team history. At a record standing at 35-47, everything that could have gone wrong did in this dreadful season. The turning point of the season would be the 11 game losing streak that started around the all star break. Injuries to Jermaine O'Neal, Marquis Daniels, a lack of a solid back up point guard, the blockbuster trade midway through the season that interrupted the team chemistry, having poor defensive efforts and being last place in the league in the offensive department were the main reasons that led to the team's struggles. The April 15 loss to New Jersey Nets knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.

On January 17, 2007, the Indiana Pacers traded Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and Josh Powell to the Golden State Warriors for forward Troy Murphy, forward/guard Mike Dunleavy, Jr., forward Ike Diogu, and guard Keith McLeod.

On April 25, 2007, the Indiana Pacers announced the firing of coach Rick Carlisle, with the Pacers' first losing record in ten seasons being the main reason for the coach's dismissal. Pacers' president Larry Bird noted that Carlisle had the opportunity to return to the Pacers franchise in another role. Later, Carlisle opted to not stay with the organization and is now broadcasting with ESPN and may return to coaching in the future, which he did with the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. On May 31, 2007, Jim O'Brien was named the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. O'Brien made it clear that he intended to take the Pacers back to the playoffs in the 2007-2008 season. He also made it known that he favors a more up-tempo, fast-paced style as opposed to Carlisle's slower, more meticulous style of coaching.

Despite missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 80's, the 2007-2008 season displayed many signs of growth in the team, especially towards the end of the season. Off-court legal distraction from Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels, and Shawne Williams in the middle of the season did not help the Pacers struggles, and injuries to Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal damaged the Pacers' already weak defense and left almost all point guard duties to recently acquired Travis Diener, who saw minimal minutes on his previous NBA teams. Despite this, and a 36-46 record, the Pacers had a very strong finish to the season, which included a desperate attempt to steal the 8th seed from the Atlanta Hawks, and dramatic improvement in forwards Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy. Both Granger and Dunleavy were involved in the voting for Most Improved Player, with Dunleavy finishing in the top 10. The two were also the first Pacer pair to score 1500 points each in a single season since Reggie Miller and Detlef Schrempf did it in the early 90s. On July 9, 2008, the Pacers traded Jermaine O'Neal and the rights to Nathan Jawai to the Toronto Raptors for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and the rights to Roy Hibbert.On the same day the Pacers acquired Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, and the rights to Brandon Rush from the Portland Trail Blazers in return for Ike Diogu and the rights to Jerryd Bayless. On October 10, 2008, the Pacers traded Shawne Williams to the Dallas Mavericks for Eddie Jones and two future second-round draft picks.

In April of the 2007-2008 Season, Pacers GM since 1984 Donnie Walsh left the Pacers to join the New York Knicks. All of Walsh's basketball-related duties were given to Pacers' President Larry Bird. Walsh's business-related roles were given to co-owner Herbert Simon and Jim Morris, who was promoted to President of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

The Pacers wear the usual white home uniform with navy blue and gold trim. Their away uniform is navy blue with gold trim. They also have a third uniform which is gold with navy blue trim.

The Indiana Pacers are also the only team in the league in which all the players' jerseys they have retired are in the 30s.

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Source : Wikipedia