News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 25, 2013

Larry Bird celebration weekend set

Indiana State will honor Larry Legend with scholarship dinner, statue dedication in November

TERRE HAUTE — Basketball legend Larry Bird is scheduled be in Terre Haute on Nov. 8 and 9 for two events at Indiana State University, including the dedication of a statue in his honor on the south side of Hulman Center.

He also is scheduled for a Larry Bird Scholarship Dinner Nov. 8 at Hulman Center. The weekend events are being called, “Honoring a Legend.”

“It will be a great event for our community and our university and a great opportunity to honor Larry Bird,” said Ron Prettyman, ISU athletics director. “He was arguably one of the most important figures to attend ISU, both from a publicity perspective and from an athletic perspective. To honor him is something probably long overdue.”

Bird played for ISU from 1976 to 1979. In 1979, the Sycamores reached the NCAA finals, losing their only game of the season to Michigan State, 75-64, in Salt Lake City. Bird was the National Player of the Year that season, and the Sycamores finished 33-1.

He was a first-round draft pick by the Boston Celtics after his junior season, but he chose to return to ISU for his senior year. Bird wore No. 33 at ISU, which the university has since retired.

After completing his college career at ISU, Bird went on to become an NBA all-star with the Boston Celtics, an Olympian and an Indiana Pacers coach and executive.

Details about the Nov. 8 and 9 events can be found at www.indstate.edu/larrybird.

A website promotion for the event reads:

“Before the Dream Team...

 “Before 13 seasons and three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics...

“And before becoming the only person to have won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year awards...

“Larry Bird and the 1979 Sycamores took the collegiate basketball world by storm in the Year that March Went Mad.”

The Nov. 8-9 events at ISU will pay tribute to Bird’s legacy by dedicating a statue in his honor in conjunction with college basketball’s opening weekend on Nov. 9.

The Larry Bird Statue dedication will take place at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 9, outside Hulman Center prior to the 1 p.m. ISU basketball game against Ball State. The statue has been crafted by Vigo County sculptor Bill Wolfe, who has promoted the idea for many years.

It will be an all-bronze, 15-foot tall statue, which excludes any additional height from a base.

On Nov. 8, Bird will attend the Larry Bird Scholarship Dinner at Hulman Center; the dinner will establish the Larry Legend Scholarship fund to benefit ISU student-athletes. The highlight of the evening will be a special program dedicated to Bird. Hosted by Pacer colleague and Celtic teammate, Quinn Buckner, Bird will reminisce about the 1979 season and his years with the Celtics and Pacers organizations.

According to the ISU website, there will be guest appearances from coaches, teammates and players who have been a part of Bird’s career. Magic Johnson, who played on the 1979 Michigan State team that defeated ISU, has been invited, as has the entire 1978-1979 ISU men’s basketball team.

Honoring Bird was an initiative of Brad Fenton and dozens of ISU students who started the Larry Legend Foundation in 2005, according to a letter written by ISU President Dan Bradley to alumni and boosters.

The students wanted to pay tribute to Bird by having a statue on ISU’s campus, which, in the spirit of competition, would be taller than the statue of Magic Johnson outside Breslin Arena at Michigan State.

The students also wanted to start a scholarship in Bird’s honor, and they began raising money with T-shirt sales on campus and at ISU basketball games. Their motivation and dedication inspired an ISU alumnus to fund the statue in its entirety, Bradley wrote.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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