News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Larry Bird

November 3, 2013

The Bird Years: Small-town beginnings

Larry Legend's evolution began on French Lick courts

(Continued)

FRENCH LICK —

The main attraction

High school basketball fans all around the area were flocking to see Bird play.

“Our gym holds 2,700 people. Loogootee came here and both were undefeated. I think there was probably 5,000 people in the gym,” Weikert said. “They were sitting up by the window ledges. It was the game of the year. I think we got beat. If the fire marshal came, it would have been tough to run ’em out. They wanted to see a ballgame.”

Jones had never seen anything like it.

“The night he got 55 points and 38 rebounds. Gary gave him a lot of freedom, allowed him to expand his game, and he just took it to another level,” Jones said. “He averaged 30 points a game-plus. He averaged 20 rebounds a game-plus. He had some kids that really played well with him. He took care of them, they took care of him.”

Bird, now the one drawing the top college coaches into the area, took Springs Valley to the sectional crown. The Blackhawks won a first-round regional game but could not fend off the Bedford Stone Cutters in the regional final, falling a game short of the Sweet 16.

“I wished I’d have had more experience,” Holland said. “We had Bedford beat, but couldn’t hit our free throws and got beat. All the stuff that Jones and I did down through the grades just seemed to blend in and fit his personality perfect.”

Jones, who has returned to live near Springs Valley after climbing Indiana’s all-time wins list after many years at Terre Haute North Vigo, said Bird’s one-year improvement was his physical tools catching up to a complete understanding of basketball.

“He just became much bigger and stronger. He always had the qualities,” Jones said. “He thought the game just a little bit higher. I don’t know why, God-given or what. He just always had a feel for the game. It’s something you don’t teach. He just really understood the game.”

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Larry Bird
  • MET 110913 BIRD CONF.jpg Larry’s Lessons: On a beautiful fall day at Hulman Center

    I attended the unveiling of the Larry Bird statue on Saturday, Nov. 9, and found the proceedings to be wonderful.

    November 17, 2013 3 Photos

  • MET 110913 BIRD UNVEILS.jpg Dedicated: Nearly a decade after effort began, Larry Bird’s statue christened in its rightful place

    “Five!”
    “Four!”
    “Three!”
    “Two!”
    “One!”

    November 10, 2013 11 Photos 3 Stories

  • MET 110913 BIRD HANDSHAKE.jpg Fans of all ages find in Larry Bird a figure of inspiration

    “Bird! Bird! Bird!”
    From the sidewalk to the rooftop of a downtown parking garage across the street from the Hulman Center, a big crowd chanted and cheered Saturday for NBA basketball legend, Indiana’s native son and Sycamore star, Larry Bird.

    November 10, 2013 5 Photos 3 Stories

  • MET 110913 BIRD 79 TEAM.jpg Hughes, News & Views: The ’78-79 Sycamores rediscover timeless bond

    The 1978-79 Indiana State men’s basketball team that posted a 33-1 record and battled Michigan State for the coveted NCAA championship almost 35 years ago isn’t likely to play any more full-court games together, not even just for fun.

    November 10, 2013 7 Photos 3 Stories

  • Larry Bird: In his words

    Bird behind the scenes — Before the public statue dedication took place Saturday, Bird agreed to field questions from newspaper and television reporters inside Hulman Center.

    November 10, 2013 3 Stories

  • TODD GOLDEN: Great to see Bird inside his house at Indiana State

    I don’t know Larry Bird and it would be extraordinarily foolish for me to pretend to be an expert on his mood, but some impressions don’t lie, and as I watched the Indiana State legend be honored with a beautiful 15-foot statue by his alma mater on Saturday at Hulman Center, I saw someone who seemed at ease in his time, and especially, his place.

    November 9, 2013

  • 79 west vigo baseball.jpg MARK BENNETT: A degree of success

    Determination to get that diploma Larry Bird’s deepest bond with fellow ISU alums, students

    November 9, 2013 2 Photos

  • MET 110813 BIRD 03JONES.jpg Legendary gathering: Larry Bird returns to arena where he made his name

    Stories came fast and furious Friday night in Hulman Center for the “Honoring a Legend” scholarship program — some of the stories even told by someone other than Bill Walton.

    November 9, 2013 5 Photos 13 Stories

  • MET 110813 BIRD ENTRANCE.jpg Players, fans, coaches share stories of Bird's legacy

    Memories of Larry Bird’s basketball days at Indiana State University filled conversations on the upper concourse of Hulman Center on Friday, prior to the Larry Bird Scholarship Dinner.

    November 9, 2013 6 Photos 10 Stories

  • GUEST COLUMNIST: Memories of a legendary time

    Even though it has been nearly 35 years, I remember it like it was yesterday. The chaos of the fans screaming at every home game.

    November 9, 2013

  • ISU players look forward to Bird statue ceremony

    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.

    November 9, 2013

  • Gov. Pence issues proclamation declaring Larry Bird Day in Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence today issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, Nov. 9 as Larry Bird Day in Indiana. The proclamation coincides with the official dedication of a 15-foot bronze statue of Bird at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

    November 8, 2013 1 Story

  • MET 121712 WOLFE LEGS.jpg Filling our void: Terre Haute artist Bill Wolfe poured his heart and soul into the project of a lifetime

    Bill Wolfe thumbed through a series of photographs documenting his sculpture of basketball legend Larry Bird.

    November 7, 2013 3 Photos 12 Stories 3 Videos

  • EDITORIAL: Bird’s adopted hometown's ready for big weekend

    We hope visitors see a Terre Haute striving to honor its past and reach for its future. An exciting weekend is about to unfold in Terre Haute.

    November 7, 2013 3 Stories

  • wolfepromo.jpg Sculpting A Legend: The journey, in pictures

    The Tribune-Star presents a special publication of the sculpture's creation.

    November 7, 2013 1 Photo

  • MET 110613 HANTZIS 01BIRD.jpg Still an ISU, Larry Bird fan after all these years

    In 1978-79, Darlene Hantzis was a 19-year-old Indiana State University sophomore, English major, student leader and basketball fan.

    November 7, 2013 1 Photo 14 Stories

  • Larry Bird 002.jpg The Bird Years: From player to executive

    When it comes to Larry Bird, there’s one franchise with which he’ll always be indelibly associated.
    Bird will live on in eternal Boston Celtic green. He will forever be a symbol of a NBA that exploded in popularity in the 1980s partly because of his considerable exploits.
    But as iconic as Bird is as a Celtic, one could make an argument for similar iconic status with the Indiana Pacers.

    November 6, 2013 3 Photos 4 Stories

  • MET110513bluenotes grav.jpg ISU students writing notes to Larry Bird

    As a high school student, Phillip Newbill didn’t know much about Indiana State University or even where it was, for that matter. But there’s one thing he did know. “I just knew Larry Bird came here,” said Newbill, now an ISU senior. “If you ask anyone about ISU, they say, ‘Oh, that’s where Larry Bird went.’”

    November 5, 2013 5 Photos 2 Stories

  • MET 110413 BIRD COLLIER.jpg The Bird has landed: Crews ease Wolfe’s Larry Bird statue into place

    After steel cables were attached Monday morning to a 15-foot bronze statue of Larry Bird, Brent Clark, a crane operator with 28 years of experience, carefully maneuvered the likeness of Indiana State University’s most famous basketball star over a concrete base.

    November 5, 2013 6 Photos 1 Slideshow 16 Stories

  • Bird_ celtics - David.jpg The Bird Years: Larry Bird’s most iconic moments with the Celtics

    Serving double duty as a baseball infielder for the American League’s Toronto Blue Jays and basketball guard for Brigham Young University, 20-year-old Danny Ainge found time in March 1979 to drive from Provo, Utah, to Salt Lake City to catch an in-person view of the legendary Michigan State vs. Indiana State clash for the NCAA championship.

    November 5, 2013 6 Photos 4 Stories

  • MET 091913 GARZA WOLFE.jpg MAX JONES: Picture story captures Bill Wolfe’s adventure

    It was about one year ago when Tribune-Star chief photographer Joe Garza decided to stop by Bill Wolfe’s downtown studio to see what new projects were being born. On the day of Joe’s impromptu visit, Bill was busy planning the very early stages of a project that would dominate coming months — the creation of the Larry Bird statue.

    November 4, 2013 2 Photos 2 Stories

  • BIRDweb4.JPG The Bird Years: Rise to prominence

    Do dreams ever come true?
    Does an athlete ever not only live up to his buildup, but exceed it by enormous amounts?
    It may not happen very often now, when athletes are written about and recruited from the time they are in elementary school.
    But it certainly happened in the 1970s, when Indiana State University and Terre Haute got to know Larry Bird and were able to introduce him to the rest of the world.

    November 4, 2013 4 Photos 4 Stories

  • SPT 100413 BIRD 03COACHES.jpg The Bird Years: Small-town beginnings

    Larry Bird is not the only small-town Hoosier basketball success story.
    But his rise to legendary status makes his the biggest.
    Bird’s ascension to stardom at Indiana State is the essence of what March Madness is today. He may have come out of nowhere in the minds of basketball fans around the nation, but those native to Southern Indiana’s Orange County and the surrounding area — and really any pride-filled Hoosier small town — would disagree.

    November 3, 2013 5 Photos 4 Stories

  • MET 102913 BIRD STUDENTS.jpg Big week ahead for ISU

    Larry Bird fans from near and far will gather at Indiana State University this week to pay tribute to the basketball legend and former Sycamore, who in 1979 took the team to the NCAA Championship game.

    November 3, 2013 4 Photos 2 Stories

  • MARK BENNETT: Brad Fenton and friends set dominos in motion to make Larry Bird statue a reality

    The idea has been out there for awhile, floating.
    Locals in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s would say, “They need to put up a statue of Larry Bird. I mean, one of the all-time greatest basketball players played right here in Terre Haute at Indiana State University.”

    November 2, 2013 5 Stories

  • MET 102913 BIRD HESLER.jpg Honoring Larry Bird: Legend in Bronze

    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.

    October 30, 2013 12 Photos 4 Stories

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