Sports Code: Larry Bird Says Indiana Pacers ‘Went Soft’

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

MTV2’s “Guy Code” explores the previously unspoken rules that exists between bros. We dig that, so we’ve decided to analyze a different law: the Sports Code. It’s a term that we invented but it refers to the idea that you don’t take in-house matters to the media, or throw a teammate under the bus. That sort of thing.

“I can’t believe my team went soft,” said Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird following Indy’s game five drubbing by the Miami Heat . “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen. That’s all I have to say.” If the NBA legend were talking about a player’s phallus, that’d be one thing, but he’s referring to his team’s performance, err, effort. The  Heat crushed the Pacers on the boards, pulling down 14 more rebounds, even without big man Chris Bosh; somehow point guard Mario Chalmers managed 11 boards. Bird’s remark has that “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” tone but it’s more than disappointment–it’s disgust. The Hick from French Lick doesn’t tolerate losing and especially not wimpy play. But did Bird foul by calling out his team so publicly? And did he need to spell out soft for emphasis?

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggests that Bird wasn’t just venting to the local paper but might be trying to motivate his team as he did in 1984 after the Celtics lost in game three of the finals to the Lakers, when he called his teammates “sissies” to try and fire them up. Would Bird’s lament have had the same effect on his players if he told them directly? Maybe he did. Normally we think it’s best for a coach or president to save the fire for the locker room but hey, desperate times. We’ll find out how the Pacers respond in game six on Thursday.

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