LONG DISTANCE LEGEND
The Pacers president captured the inaugural NBA Three Point Shootout in 1986 and successfully defended his crown in '87 and '88.
Dan Patrick:Did you see a lot of BYU's Jimmer Fredette this season?
Larry Bird: Pretty good player, isn't he?
DP:Where does he rank in the nation offensively?
LB: The best in college basketball. He can get the ball in the hole from anywhere.
DP:Did you ever have a green light like Fredette?
LB: I had a green light since I was in grade school.
DP:What's the most shots you ever took in a game?
LB: In high school I shot 35 or 36 times. That's pretty hard to do in a 32-minute game. I must have had a heck of a lot of offensive rebounds.
DP:Does Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough have the green light?
LB: [Long pause] Tyler's got a scorer's mentality. If he gets it, he's probably going to shoot it. In college he was an inside player. He still is. But the way the pro game is, he's out on the wing a lot. He's really learned how to knock down that 15- to 18-foot jumper. He's going to be a big scorer in our league.
DP:What player do you regret not drafting?
LB: [Rajon] Rondo.
DP:What was it about Rondo that made you nervous?
LB: His shooting.
DP:He still can't shoot.
LB: No, but he can play.
DP:Could you teach him to shoot?
LB: It'd take awhile.
DP:Are you good at teaching players to shoot?
LB: I know the basics. Everybody thinks they can shoot better than they really can. I can help a lot of players.
DP:Best shooter you ever saw?
LB: A kid I played college ball with could shoot the lights out, but he couldn't play. I could hardly ever beat him at H-O-R-S-E. A guy named Howie Johnson.
DP:He's the best shooter you ever saw?
DP:How good a shooter were you?
LB: What always amazed me about myself, sometimes I'd get out there in practice or just shooting around, and I'd get in a rhythm. I could hit 95 out of 100 every time.
LB: From wherever.
DP:Are you the best shooter in NBA history?
LB: I don't know about that. Steve Nash is a great shooter. There's a lot of them.
DP:How do you assess the Pacers right now?
LB: We're just so young. We're starting four guys with [three years or less experience]. We're going to be down in money this year, at about $36 million [against the salary cap]. We can go out there and handpick the guys we want to fill our roster. I like the direction we're going,
DP:Could you ever have left the Celtics by free agency or by forcing a trade like some of today's big stars have?
LB: I could never see myself playing for another team. I enjoyed it in Boston. The fans were supportive. We had good teams. So really there was no need to leave.
DP:Could you have teamed up with other superstars?
LB: I did in the All-Star Game. I didn't like it. I never liked All-Star Games. It's a showman's game. I didn't feel I was a showman. I thought I was a basketball player.
• On Guard
The New Jersey Nets' Deron Williams is frustrated with how the media portrayed his role in Jerry Sloan's retirement. Williams said people "want controversy," and the All-Star guard maintained that an argument he had with Sloan during a loss to the Bulls on Feb. 9 had nothing to do with the coach's decision to quit the next day. "Players and coaches around the league get into it all the time," Williams told me. "We're with each other more than we are with our families."
• Shark Bite
In the wake of the recent HBO documentary on UNLV, analysts are reevaluating Jerry Tarkanian's career. The former Runnin' Rebels coach had a 706--198 career record, and I believe he deserves to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Tarkanian thinks he knows why he hasn't made it. "I wrote a couple articles while I was coaching at Long Beach State where I ripped the NCAA," Tarkanian told me, "and they have never forgiven me."
• Line of the week
Butler coach Brad Stevens, on the controversial fouls at the end of the Bulldogs' NCAA tournament win over Pittsburgh last Saturday night: "You gotta call the game until the game is over, and I think they've made that clear."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Charles Barkley on taking a crash course in college hoops.
2. Kyrie Irving explains how he can help Duke repeat as champs.
THE FINE PRINT: Good news for college basketball fans. By next March, truTV will have a reality show called How to Find truTV.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
MIKE MCGINNIS/CAL SPORT MEDIA (WILLIAMS)
JOHN BIEVER (STEVENS)
MARC SEROTA/AP (BIRD)