INDIANAPOLIS — Larry Bird hasn’t seen it yet, but thousands of Indiana Pacers fans and Indiana State University supporters on Tuesday night saw his 15-foot bronze statue in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse atrium, 12 days before it will be unveiled outside Hulman Center in Terre Haute. Bird said he is waiting for the Nov. 9 statue dedication at ISU to see his larger-than-life likeness, when he will rejoin many of his teammates from the 1978-79 NCAA runner-up team.
“Obviously, it is very exciting,” said Bird, speaking before Tuesday night’s game, the Pacers’ season opener. “I am not a self-promoter. Sounds like a lot of students at Indiana State wanted to get this thing done and they did.”
Bird — who went on to star in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and to coach and now supervise the Pacers — vividly recalled his years at ISU, where he played basketball from 1976 to 1979.
“It definitely was a special time,” he said of that era. “I remember just about every game. We had a lot of success there, especially my senior year. I had a lot of fun in Terre Haute and always love to go back there, so it will be special.”
Asked if he will be emotional about seeing the statue, Bird chuckled and responded, “No, because I don’t dream about these things, never have. I have always felt, ‘Why me?’
“For me, it is something that has never really happened. I am sort of embarrassed by the fact that they are doing something like this, but still I understand it. We had a great run in ‘79. It was really the start of ‘March Madness’ and we played against a great team (Michigan State for the NCAA championship) that night,” Bird said.
“I just feel honored to be able to play basketball at an institution where I felt very comfortable and was able not only to do well on the court, but off the court.”