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article imageNBA: Pacers' Larry Bird named 'Executive of the Year'

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By Layne Weiss     May 17, 2012 in Sports
The Associated Press is reporting that Indiana Pacers president, Larry Bird, was named NBA Executive of the Year Wednesday. He is now the first person in the NBA to win MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.
The 3 time MVP and Hall of Famer received 12 first place votes and 88 points from a panel of NBA team executives, AP reports.
San Antonio Spurs' exec R.C. Buford finished in second place with 56 points, while Los Angeles Clippers General Manager Neil Olshley finished with 55, NBA.com reports.
"I think it's an award well deserved," Pacers forward Danny Granger said according to the AP. "Larry probably has more accolades than anyone right now."
Pacers coach Frank Vogel commented that "it's obvious" why Bird won the award, the Indianapolis Star reports. "If you look at how this particular team has been built, it's really remarkable to see where we were a few years ago."
"We had to take it slow and get some players we could build around," Bird told the Indianapolis Star. "It was a long journey. It was a painful journey. Now we think it's going to pay dividends."
The Pacers didn't have enough salary cap space to go after big contracts, so Bird was forced to get slightly creative. He strategically used the draft to acquire veterans players such as David West and Leandro Barbosa.
"It's not easy," Bird said. "I knew it was going to be tough. It's still tough. We don't drive revenues like the big market teams. We can't go after the $17-18 million players. We have to do it different ways. If we try to patchwork it, it doesn't work that way."
He also named Frank Vogel head coach,USA Today reports. Vogel, who is one of the youngest coaches in the NBA, led the Pacers to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference in the shortened 2011-2012 season.
The Pacers beat the Orlando Magic in the 1st round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, and are now tied in the semi finals with the Miami Heat 1-1.
"This is an honor for the Indiana Pacers, not for Larry Bird," Bird said in a statement. "Everyone in this franchise put in a lot of work and showed a lot of patience as we have tried to get this team to a level on and off the court the fans could be proud of. You always believe and hope the players you get will fit into a plan, and I'm very proud of what our guys and coaches have accomplished so far this year."
Bird was hired as team president of the Pacers in 2003, AP reports. In his first year as president, the Pacers won 61 games.
The next few years weren't smooth sailing at all for Bird. He had to endure the infamous brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which saw a lot of his players fined and suspended.
In 2006, he traded Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Shawne WIlliams.
Over the next few years, Bird would get Danny Granger, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and Tyler Hansbrough in the draft. Through trades, he got George Hill, Lou Amundson, and Leandro Barbaso, and he got veteran player David West through free agency.
Granger was named KIA's "Most Improved Player of the Year" in 2009.
In 2011, his decision to fire head coach Jim O'Brien in favor of a much lesser experienced Frank Vogel was met with questions, but it has proven thus far to have been a smart move.
Bloomberg reports that besides Bird, Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, and Fred Layden are the only other people to win both NBA Coach of the Year and NBA Executive of The Year.
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