Most professional athletes would consider winning the Most Valuable Player Award the benchmark for success that defines a career. Most coaches would see the Coach of the Year award the same way. And most team presidents may consider their mission accomplished if they won the Executive of the Year award.
On Wednesday, Larry Bird became the only person in the history of the NBA who can look in his trophy case and see all three of those awards.
Bird, the president of the Indiana Pacers, was awarded the NBA's Executive of the Year award on Wednesday with 12 first-place votes and 88 points, from a panel comprised of the NBA's other team executives. The San Antionio Spurs' president, R.C. Buford, finished second in voting, with eight first-place votes and 56 points.
"This is an honor for the Indiana Pacers, not an award 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 in Indiana can 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 our coaches have accomplished so far this year."
Bird won the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award with the Boston Celtics three years in a row, from 1984-1986. He also was awarded the Coach of the Year award for the 1997-1998 season, when the Pacers finished with a 58-24 record.
The Pacers had a 42-24 record this season, good for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. One of Bird's key moves that contributed to the Pacers' success was naming interim coach Fred Vogel the team's head coach. Bird also signed free agent David West, who is now Indiana's starting power forward.
The Pacers started the NBA playoffs by advancing past the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic in five games. They are now tied 1-1 in their series against the Miami Heat. The Pacers travel to Miami for Game 3 on Thursday.