TERRE HAUTE —
When you play basketball at Indiana State, it’s impossible to escape the long shadow cast by the greatness that was Larry Bird.
The Sycamores recognize that and embrace playing at Bird’s alma mater. Larry Bird’s 15-foot statue will be dedicated at 11:30 a.m. today in a ceremony outside Hulman Center and the Sycamores are proud to be a part of it.
“The anticipation is pretty cool. I’ve never had a chance to meet Larry Bird, so I’m looking forward to doing that. He’s the legend in Terre Haute,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said. “Anybody over the age of 40 that I talk to about basketball says, ‘I remember when Larry was here.’ We appreciate that and we appreciate the things he does for us.”
ISU senior forward Manny Arop came to ISU via Sudan, Canada and Gonzaga. Bird was well known to him even before he emigrated from Sudan to North America.
“Any basketball player hears about the greats. You hear about Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. When you grow up and think of legends those are the players you think of growing up. I knew about Larry since I was a little kid,” Arop said.
“It’s exciting to be a part of [the statue dedication]. For what he’s done for this program ... for what he’s done for basketball in the whole world,” Arop added.
Odum hopes that the statue dedication portends good things for the current Sycamores. ISU finished as NCAA runners-up in 1979 during Bird’s senior season. Odum is hoping for big things in his senior year too.
“We want to end this year and have people talk about us and say, ‘I remember that team, I remember those guys.’ It’s nice we’re doing it this year because I feel like we have something special with this team. I’m not comparing it to Larry, but its something that could be exciting for ISU fans all around,” Odum said.