Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird promoted 51-year-old assistant Nate McMillan as the next head coach of his team on Monday, hoping that a new voice in the locker room would translate to better results on the court.
After deciding not to retain former coach Frank Vogel, Bird hired McMillan less than two weeks later. The Pacers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in seven games by the Toronto Raptors.
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“We will respect the game,” said McMillan during his news conference. “What I mean by respect the game is that you mentally and physically have to prepare yourself to go out and play hard every single night.”
McMillan played 12 seasons in the NBA, all with the then-Seattle SuperSonics. He then went on to coach Seattle and the Portland Trailblazers over 12 seasons, finishing with a 478-452 regular season record, along with a 14-20 playoff mark. He has also served as an assistant coach with USA Basketball, where he has earned two Olympic gold medals.
“I like what he did in Portland, I like the fact that he’s old-school, I like structure,” said Bird. “I’m not saying Frank didn’t have those things, but I’ve always admired Nate from afar and that’s why it didn’t take me long to decide to bring him in here.
“It’s not like you have to get up in players’ faces and yell and scream anymore,” Bird continued. “But you do have to have control and I think Nate will do that.”
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