The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

April 27, 2007

MIKE BEAS: Pacers, Bird need right decision on next coach

As e-mails from the Indiana Pacers went, this one came across as eerily blunt. Seventeen words in all, which sent up a flare that Rick Carlisle’s days as head coach were over.

It went something like this:

What: press conference. Who: Larry Bird. Where: Conseco Fieldhouse. When: Wednesday, 2 p.m.

Ransom notes pack more personality.

Sure enough, at 2 o’clock sharp, Bird verified that Carlisle’s tenure, a grab bag of chaos featuring some of the NBA’s mixed nuts, would be coming to an end after four seasons that, in truth, must have seemed like 14 to Carlisle.

Only 47, Carlisle looks older. The man has not aged gracefully these past few years, and only part of it has been self-inflicted.

Carlisle is the latest domino to tumble at the hand of former Pacers forward Ron Artest, whose brain lapse at The Palace of Auburn Hills in November 2004 continues to jump up and bite the franchise where the sun don’t dare shine.

Pack the family and the sunscreen, and take a vacation, Rick. A long one. You deserve it.

Red Auerbach in his prime would have slammed his bald head against the locker room wall more than a few times had he been dealt the hand you were dealt.

Artest. Stephen Jackson. Jamaal Tinsley. The well-past-his-prime version of Reggie Miller.

There’s no guarantee respected modern-day coaches like Pat Riley or Phil Jackson would have stayed on course test-driving this jalopy, either.

The question now is: Where does the franchise go from here? The Pacers and what fans they have left have discovered quicksand and need a branch to wrap their hopes around.

It’s impossible to read Bird’s mind (not that I would want to), so most of us don’t have a clue as to who the next head coach will be.

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