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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Widespread support for Derrick Gordon after UMass guard comes out 04.10.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, MLB Network; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Athletics at Twins, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 2:15 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Brewers at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Bruins at Jets, 8 p.m. (NESNPlu)
NHL: Blues at Wild, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: NCAA semifinals, Boston College vs. Union, 5 p.m. (ESPN2; WEEI-AM)
College hockey: NCAA semifinals, North Dakota vs. Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Spurs at Mavericks, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Nuggets at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Golf: The Masters, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Juventus vs. Lyon, 3 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s exhibition, United States vs. China, 11 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Derrick Gordon

Derrick Gordon

– UMass sophomore Derrick Gordon is getting widespread support after becoming the first openly gay Division 1 basketball player.

Gordon and members of the UMass team conducted interviews Wednesday afternoon after national stories detailed Gordon’s decision to come out.

“It’s crazy that I’m the first,” Gordon told The Associated Press. “I didn’t know that it would be this long, but if I’m the first, then I’ll start it all off.”

Added Gordon: “I’ve been getting tons and tons of support. I’m barely getting anything negative.”

The 22-year-old from New Jersey said he withdrew socially at the start of last season as rumors started to leak about his homosexuality, which he denied to teammates. Now he says he’s happy and “free just to live my life.”

Said teammate Tyler Bergantino: “The fact that he’s gay doesn’t change anything. We didn’t know he was gay before. We know he’s gay now. But he’s the exact same person.”

Gordon said he was inspired in part by Nets center Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player. Collins said he spoke to Gordon before the announcement, and he later tweeted: I’m so proud of @flash2gordon. Another brave young man who is going to make it easier for so many others to live an authentic life. #courage

NFL prospect Michael Sam, who came out in February, also tweeted his support, writing: Many congratulations to you Derrick Gordon @flash2gordon – you have so many in your corner and we’re all proud and rooting for you #courage

Said Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving, who played with Gordon in high school: “I thought it was a great day for him and his family. I’m proud of him. It’s a big step, not only in his life but in his career to get the weight of the world off his shoulders.”

Lacey Holsworth, the 9-year-old girl who had become a friend and inspiration to the Michigan State basketball team, lost her battle with neuroblastoma late Tuesday, devastating the campus.

The girl known as “Princess Lacey” had an especially close bond with senior Adreian Payne, who carried her in his arms on Senior Night and helped her cut down the net after the Spartans won the Big Ten championship.

“Words can’t express how much I already miss Lacey,” Payne said in a statement from the school. “She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I’m a better man because of her.”

A rock on campus was painted white with the words “MSU loves Princess Lacey. Love Like Lacey.” Coach Tom Izzo and several of his players signed the rock, along with other members of the Michigan State community.

Larry Bird‘s 22-year-old son, Connor Bird, pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness for an incident involving his girlfriend last year, according to a report at TMZ.com. Bird allegedly threw his cell phone at the woman and then tried to drive his car into her in a parking lot on the campus of Indiana University.

Bird had faced other charges, including battery and possession of marijuana, but those charges reportedly were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Bird will participate in a sober-living program and must stay clear of trouble for the next year or else face jail time.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 10, 1998, the Red Sox rallied from a 7-2 ninth-inning deficit against the Mariners, winning 9-7 on a walk-off grand slam by which player?

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Read More: Adreian Payne, Derrick Gordon, Jason Collins, Lacey Holsworth
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reportedly rushing back to guarantee salary 06.27.13 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rangers at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Indians at Orioles, 7 p.m. (MLB)
NBA: Draft, 7:30 p.m. (ESON: WEEI-AM)
Soccer: U-20 World Cup, Ghana vs. United States, 12:45 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

♦ The Yankees claim their dispute with Alex Rodriguez has been cleared up, but there are indications that there may be far more going on behind the scenes — mainly, the team trying to recoup some money by keeping A-Rod on the shelf, and the player rushing his return in order to get all his money before a possible MLB suspension for his latest performance-enhancing drug issue.

General manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday that he regrets his angry public response to Rodriguez tweeting an update on his recovery from his hip problem. Cashman was perturbed when Rodriguez tweeted that he had been cleared by his doctor, as the Yankees had been insisting he had not been given the official OK to return, and Cashman told ESPN, “Alex should just shut the [expletive] up.”

Team owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke with A-Rod on Wednesday in Tampa and reminded the player that the organization will handle injury updates. Rodriguez, who said he tweeted out of “pure excitement,” then called Cashman and team president Randy Levine and had a 30-minute discussion about team protocol.

“It was a constructive, healthy conversation. Everybody is on the same page and we’re all going to communicate and work together to get Alex back as quickly as possible,” team spokesman Jason Zillo said. “They’re all back on track.”

However, the New York Daily News has a report speculating that Rodriguez is rushing his return for financial reasons. The Daily News quotes a source as saying A-Rod will start playing in rehab games and then claim he he is physically unable to perform due to his hip injury and retire so that he can collect the remaining $144 million on his contract that runs for the next five years.

According to the report, a player who retires because he is physically unable to perform, even if later suspended, would be paid in full.

“It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension,” the source told the Daily News. “He knows he’s never going to the Hall of Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it.”

ESPN reports that Rodriguez is convinced the Yankees are intentionally slowing his return so they can have him declared medically unfit to play this season. That would allow the team to collect 80 percent of the $28 million due to him this season through insurance.

“Alex thinks there’s something really off about this situation,” a source told ESPN. “Here we have a doctor declaring him fit to play. You would think they would be happy about that.”

♦ In other Yankees news, the team announced Wednesday that first baseman Mark Teixeira will have season-ending surgery on his right wrist after it was determined that the torn sheath had not properly healed.

Teixeira, who injured the wrist hitting of a tee while warming up for the World Baseball Classic in March, is projected to need six months to recover from the surgery.

“It’s very tough, especially in a season where the team could probably use me,” Teixeira said. “I really would’ve loved to be part of hopefully what’s a playoff run, but when you realize that it’s not going to happen it’s really difficult.”

Teixeira finishes the season with a .151 batting average, .270 on-base percentage, .340 slugging percentage, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 53 at-bats over 15 games.

Larry Bird is rejoining the Pacers front office after a year away from the team. Bird will be reintroduced Thursday morning as the club’s president of basketball operations.

Bird had served in that capacity from 2003-12, winning NBA Executive of the Year honors in 2011.

“The year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues, and it recharged me,” Bird said in a statement from the team.

Said team owner Herb Simon: “We are all very happy to have Larry back. Larry had a huge impact on this team and where it is now, so it’s fitting that he comes back at this time. Donnie [Walsh, who took over for Bird] has been a friend and a valuable contributor to the franchise and will continue to be both. I wanted him to agree to stay in some capacity as I believe with Larry and Kevin [Pritchard, GM], it gives us three of the best basketball minds in the business.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On June 27, 2003, which Red Sox player tied a major league record by recording three hits (single, double, triple) in one inning — the 14-run first inning of a 25-8 rout of the Marlins at Fenway?

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Read More: alex rodriguez, brian cashman, Larry Bird, Mark Teixeira
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: With Alex Rodriguez in New York, Yankees open spring training under cloud 02.13.13 at 7:40 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Bulls at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Rockets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Wake Forest at Boston College, 7 p.m. (NESN: WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Nebraska at Indiana, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Miami at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Syracuse at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Central Florida at Memphis, 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
College basketball: West Virginia at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Purdue at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Providence at South Florida, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina at Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: San Diego State at Colorado State, 10 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
College basketball: Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oregon at Washington, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Blues at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi meets the media at spring training Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. (AP)

♦ With Alex Rodriguez rehabbing in New York, the Yankees opened spring training in Tampa, Fla., insisting that A-Rod’s latest PED scandal won’t divert their focus from the task at hand.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really come to a Yankee camp where there hasn’t been something that people might call a distraction,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This club’s used to it.

“A lot of times, it’s a two-day event, a three-day event, then the story kind of goes away. It may change for a day or two, but there will be something else that comes up that we’ll have to deal with. Him being in New York has nothing to do with trying to get rid of a distraction. It’s the best place for him to be.”

Added pitcher CC Sabathia: “We’ve dealt with a lot around here since I’ve been here, and this is my fifth year. It’s been a lot to deal with, but you learn to be a professional and go out and do your job.”

Catcher Francisco Cervelli, also linked to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in South Florida that allegedly prescribed PEDs to a number of major leaguers, is slated to address the issue publicly Wednesday.

“Of course that can weigh on his mind, but it’s a distraction that he’s going to have to block out to be able to perform,” Girardi said of Cervelli, who is competing for the starting catcher’s job. “There are other things that come up in a person’s life that can be distracting if you let them be. In a sense, this is a test for him, how he’s able to block this out.”

♦ Four University of Alabama football players were arrested and face charges for their involvement in two violent assaults and robberies of fellow students Monday. According to the police report, linebacker Tyler Hayes, safety Eddie Williams and running back Brent Calloway admitted their participation in the crimes that allegedly also included defensive lineman D.J. Pettway.

The players are said to have punched and kicked the victims, knocking them out, before stealing their wallets and at least one computer. The players then used a stolen credit card to buy snacks from vending machines in a dormitory.

The players, all backups, were suspended by the team, which is coming off its second straight national championship.

“This behavior is unacceptable for any student-athlete at the University of Alabama and not representative of our football program,” coach Nick Saban said in a statement.

♦ The 21-year-old son of Celtics legend Larry Bird was arrested Sunday after allegedly trying to run over his ex-girlfriend with his car. Conner Bird, a student at Indiana University, is accused of throwing a cell phone at the woman and then driving his car at her during an argument.

Bird faces preliminary charges including intimidation with a deadly weapon, battery with injury and possession of marijuana.

“It is a private matter we are hoping to resolve as quickly as possible,” said Bird’s attorney, John Tompkins. “We are happy no one was seriously hurt.”

♦ The international Olympic Committee voted Tuesday to drop wrestling starting with the 2020 Games. Wrestling was voted out from a final group that included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, accordion to an Associated Press report.

Eliminating one of the 26 sports allowed the IOC to add a new sport later this year. Wrestling can attempt to be reconsidered for inclusion, but it faces an uphill battle, competing with seven other sports also hoping to be in the 2020 Games: baseball/softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu (martial arts).

“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”

Wrestling, which includes freestyle and Greco-Roman events, has been held in every modern Olympics, starting with the Athens Games in 1896. There were 344 wrestlers at least year’s London Olympics, competing in 11 medal events.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 13, 1985, the Bruins fired coach Gerry Cheevers. Who replaced him for the remainder of the season?

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Joe Girardi, Larry Bird, nick saban
Larry Bird officially steps down, Pacers name Donnie Walsh as replacement 06.27.12 at 6:36 pm ET
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Larry Bird announced his retirement as Pacers president Wednesday, on the same day Kevin Pritchard (rear) was introduced the new GM. (AP)

Larry Bird officially stepped down from his position as Pacers president of basketball operations on Wednesday. Indiana tabbed Donnie Walsh as his replacement and Kevin Pritchard as the team’s new general manager.

“I’m going to take some time off and evaluate what I will do in the future,” Bird said. “This has nothing to do with any conflict or anything else, it’s just time. I considered leaving last year, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, I like the position this team is in, and with Kevin and Donnie, the basketball side won’t miss a beat.”

The 55-year-old cited health reasons for his departure. Bird, who served as the team’s president for nine years, also coached the team from 1997-2000 and to one NBA finals appearance. After leaving his coaching job, Bird returned to the team in 2003 and became president in 2007-08.

Walsh, Bird’s replacement, has also spent time with the Pacers. He was Indiana’s president from 1988-2008, after which he left to pursue a job with the Knicks. Previously Walsh had served as Pacers general manager for two years.

Pritchard served as Portland’s general manager from 2007-10 before joining the Pacers before last season as director of player personal. The Indiana native is taking a spot that was vacated when David Morway resigned on Tuesday.

Read More: Donnie Walsh, Kevin Pritchard, Larry Bird, Rumor Mill
Larry Bird to step down as president of Pacers 06.26.12 at 8:28 am ET
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Larry Bird is calling it quits as president of the Indiana Pacers. (AP)

Larry Bird is “100 percent sure” he will not return as president of the Indiana Pacers, sources told The Indianapolis Star on Monday.

Bird, 55, is dealing with some health issues and is expected to take a year off before deciding if he wants to partake in a front-office position with the Pacers again, according to The Star. The former Celtic is expected to meet with team owner Herb Simon later today to confirm his departure.

“(I want to talk to Simon about) the direction of the team, what kind of job he thinks we’re doing, if there’s anything he sees that we should be doing better,” Bird said May 30. “Just a number of questions. I’ve got a lot of them written down to ask him, and hopefully we can get the answers we like and move on.”

Bird steps down less than two months after being named NBA’s Executive of the Year, which made him the first person in NBA history to be named Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year (1998, Pacers) and the league’s Most Valuable Player (1984-1986, Celtics).

Read More: Larry Bird, Pacers, Rumor Mill,
Larry Bird says he wants to return as Pacers president 05.30.12 at 8:12 pm ET
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Larry Bird told reporters on Wednesday that he loves his job, likes his team, and would prefer to return as Pacers president next season. According to The Associated Press, the Indiana native is simply waiting to work out an agreement with team owner Herb Simon.

The statements challenge earlier reports that Bird would step down as the team’s president at the end of the year.

Bird took over as president when Donnie Walsh left for the Knicks in 2008. After failing to glimpse the postseason since 2005-06, the Pacers have made the playoffs in back to back seasons and this year forced the Heat into a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The turnaround earned Bird his first NBA Executive of the Year award, making him the only person to ever be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

Read More: Indiana Pacers, Larry Bird, Rumor Mill,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Larry Bird calls Pacers ‘soft’ after Heat take liberties in rout 05.23.12 at 7:41 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA playoffs: Celtics at 76ers, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NHL playoffs: Devils at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 12:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLB: Nationals at Phillies, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB: Cubs at Astros, 8 p.m. (WGN)

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ Not only did the Heat rout the Pacers in Tuesday night’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, they got in a couple of vicious hacks in the process. Following a hard foul from Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough on Dwyane Wade in the second quarter, Heat forward Udonis Haslem responded moments later with a two-handed foul to Hansbrough’s face. Then, in the closing seconds, Heat sub Dexter Pittman threw an elbow to the throat of Pacers loudmouth Dwight Stephenson, and Pittman gave a little wink for good measure. All three fouls were ruled flagrant-1.

“I don’t know if that was retaliation. … I’m sure the NBA will and do what they have to do,” said Pacers forward Danny Granger, who left in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

Pacers president Larry Bird was not happy with his team’s reaction — or lack thereof.

“I can’t believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T,” Bird told The Indianapolis Star’s Mike Wells. “I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”

♦ Rangers forward Mike Rupp escaped further punishment from the NHL after his shot to the face of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in Monday night’s Game 4, and Rupp later admitted that his hit was unprovoked.

Rupp, whose team was trailing 3-0 en route to a 4-1 loss, had just been given a roughing penalty for a hit behind the net when he skated by Brodeur and caught the unsuspecting goalie with a quick jab. There had been speculation that Brodeur said something to spark Rupp’s anger.

“No, nothing was said,” Rupp acknowledged Tuesday. “It’s a hockey game. Things happen in the moment. I’m just focused on this game [Wednesday] and looking forward to the opportunity of having home ice.”

♦ Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who was arrested for driving 93 mph on a suspended license early Monday, has a more pressing issue. Chapman is being sued for $18 million by a Cuban-American man who claims the pitcher is responsible for his imprisonment in Cuba.

Danilo Curbelo Garcia was arrested in 2008 and is serving a 10-year sentence for involvement in human trafficking because he allegedly came up with a plan to help Chapman defect in exchange for a portion of Chapman’s first major league contract. Chapman testified against Curbelo Garcia at his trial, the lawsuit states, in order to earn back his spot on the Cuban national team after his suspension for a previous attempt to escape the communist island.

Chapman defected to the Netherlands in 2009 while playing for Cuba in the World Port Tournament.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 23, 1976, the Celtics beat the Suns, 98-87, in Game 1 of the NBA finals. Which Celtic led the way with 25 points and 21 rebounds?

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Read More: Aroldis Chapman, Dexter Pittman, Dwyane Wade, Larry Bird
LEEInks List: 10 worst Boston sports collapses 09.28.11 at 11:15 am ET
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Boston sports have become known through the early 21st century as a success story. The city has celebrated seven championships among the four major sports teams since 2001. But as Boston fans know, the city’s sports scene has its share of historic and painful collapses — and this year’s September swoon by the Red Sox ranks right up there. Here’s a look at 10 of the most noteworthy Boston sports heartbreakers of the past 40 years.

10. 2009-10 Celtics

Just two years removed from their 17th NBA championship, the Celtics returned for a 12th NBA finals confrontation with the Lakers. The Celtics carried a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 in Los Angeles, but they suffered a crushing blow when center Kendrick Perkins blew out his knee early in the game and had to miss the rest of the series. The Lakers won 89-67, forcing a Game 7 in Los Angeles.

The Lakers and Celtics traded leads through the first half, but it was the Celtics who led 40-34 after two quarters. Boston came out strong in the second half, going on a 9-3 run to extend its lead to 13 points. But the Celtics could not hold on and the Lakers crawled back to within four at the end of the third quarter. The Celtics offense struggled in the final frame while the Lakers caught fire, outscoring the C’s 30-22 for an 83-79 win and their 16th NBA championship.

9. 1974 Red Sox

Before there was the horrific September of 2011, there was the terrible September of 1974. The Red Sox entered September leading Baltimore in the American League East by three games but sank fast. Boston lost six games from Sept. 1-6, three of which came against Baltimore, to fall 1½ games back in the division. The Red Sox never recovered, going 12-13 through the rest of the season and falling to a third-place finish.

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Read More: bill buckner, Bucky Dent, Don Cherry, Eli Manning
Report: Frank Vogel to be named Pacers coach 07.06.11 at 8:48 am ET
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According to The Associated Press, the Pacers will make interim coach Frank Vogel the team’s permanent head coach. Vogel, a former Celtics assistant, took over for Jim O’Brien in the middle of last season and the team finished the year 20-18. The Pacers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, before falling in five games to the top-seeded Bulls in the first round.

President of basketball operations Larry Bird called Vogel the favorite to get the job from the beginning of the search after success the Pacers had under Vogel last season. The Pacers were said to be interested in former Pacers assistant and former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, but he recently took the head coaching job with the Lakers.

The Pacers have announced a news conference with Vogel for Wednesday. He will be joined by Bird.

Read More: Frank Vogel, Larry Bird, Mike Brown, Rumor Mill
Larry Bird to remain Pacers president 05.11.11 at 9:30 am ET
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Larry Bird will remain Pacers president, the team announced Tuesday. The Celtics legend met with owner Herb Simon in Los Angeles to discuss the future of the Pacers, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

“I’m quite pleased with the success we experienced this past season and pleased with the direction our team is going,” Simon said in a statement. “I’m glad Larry is staying to help us continue in the positive direction we are going.”

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Simon said that Bird, who has been team president since 2003, has done exactly what he said he would do when he drew up a new plan for moving forward three years ago.

“He gave us a three-year plan, and I think he’s lived up to his three-year plan,” Simon said. “He said it would be tough going, but by the third year, he thought we could probably make the playoffs, which he did, and that we would have cap space to build upon the core group that he’s established.”

Read More: Herb Simon, Larry Bird, Rumor Mill,