Retires From Basketball In 2000
As he had in Boston, Bird raised the profile of the Pacers as he made the team into title contenders. In
2000 the Pacers faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals, a series that the Lakers took in six games. Despite the success of the team, however, Bird decided that he did not have enough experience to continue on as the Pacers' coach and announced his retirement. The owner of a car dealership in Martinsville, Indiana and a hotel and restaurant in Terre Haute, Bird also retained an endorsement deal with Heinz foods that kept him in the public spotlight. Along with their two children, Bird and his wife Dinah divided their time at homes in Indiana and Florida.
Bird's consistency—most evident in his career free-throw average of 88.6 percent—and commitment to team work made the Boston Celtics into perennial championship contenders in the 1980s. Bird himself emerged as one of the league's most popular players in an era often dominated by the flashy style of superstars such as Magic Johnson. As a standout collegiate and professional player, then, Larry Bird helped to make basketball into one of the most popular mass-spectator sports in North America and abroad. Despite his fame, Bird remained resolutely down-to-earth about his accomplishments. "Basketball has been my life," he wrote in Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, "Everything I got has been through basketball. Our family never owned our own home. We never had a car…. Every material thing I have is through basketball. Every piece of clothes I have is through basketball. That's the way it's been."