TERRE HAUTE —
While Larry Bird started his college basketball career in Terre Haute, a more than 15-foot tall bronze statue of him in an ISU uniform will first be unveiled at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The unveiling is scheduled for Oct. 29 to coincide with the Indiana Pacers opening home game.
Bird is director of basketball operations for the Pacers. He is the only person to win the NBA Player of the Year, NBA Coach of the Year and NBA Executive of the Year.
“We are excited about the statue being displayed at the Pacers’ home opening game. We think it will add to the excitement and promote even more interest in the Larry Legend’s Scholarship Fund,” said Dave Taylor, spokesman for Indiana State University.
“The Pacers are very supportive of the scholarship, and we appreciate that.”
Indiana State is hosting a two-day event, which includes a dinner, to raise money for Bird’s scholarship fund and to dedicate the statue.
ISU officials expect the dinner event to raise a minimum $500,000 for Bird’s scholarship endowment fund, Taylor said.
Herb Simon, owner of the Pacers, is expected to be among dignitaries at the Nov. 8 Larry Bird Scholarship Dinner on ISU’s campus, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported Wednesday.
The dinner will be emceed by Jackie McMullan, Taylor said. McMullan is a former Boston Globe columnist who now works at ESPN.
Other dignitaries include Quinn Buckner, Bill Walton, several members of ISU’s 1979 national runnerup basketball team and Jim Jones, Bird’s high school basketball coach in French Lick, Taylor said.
In addition, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former NBA player with the Los Angeles Lakers, has been invited to attend. “He has been invited, but he has not confirmed yet, so we don’t know,” Taylor said. Johnson is a collegiate and professional basketball nemesis of Bird. The two forged a friendship while playing on a U.S. Olympic team and after their NBA playing careers.
The public can attend the “Honoring a Legend Program” immediately after the dinner. Doors will open for that program at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $33 for the upper section and $133 for the lower section of Hulman Center seating. Proceeds will go to Bird’s scholarship fund.
The Larry Bird statue will be dedicated at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 outside Hulman Center, where Bird played from 1976 to 1979. The dedication precedes Indiana State’s 1 p.m. basketball game versus Ball State.
In 1979, the Sycamores reached the NCAA finals, losing the only game of the season to Michigan State, 75-64, in Salt Lake City. Bird was named the National Player of the Year that season, and the Sycamores finished 33-1.
After ISU, Bird became an all-star NBA player for the Boston Celtics, an Olympian and Indiana Pacers coach and executive.