Bird: Pacers must 'go after' teams

Updated: March 12, 2014, 5:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Indiana Pacers may have the Eastern Conference's best record, but Larry Bird still has significant concerns about the team.

In an interview with The Indianapolis Star on Tuesday, the Pacers' president said he's been disappointed with the team's approach at times this season.

"A lot of times, we don't take the fight to them [the opponent]," Bird told the Star. "A lot of times we sit back and wait and see how it goes. And that was the case even when we were winning a lot of games early in the season. We've got to be mentally prepared to really go after the teams we're playing against. We can't have the mindset it's just another game; it's a very important game. All of them are."

[+] EnlargeLarry Bird and Frank Vogel
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty ImagesLarry Bird told The Indianapolis Star that coach Frank Vogel has "to start going after guys when they're not doing what they're supposed to do."

The Pacers (47-17) snapped a season-high four-game losing skid Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics. But Bird, speaking with the Star before the game, said his concerns stretched well before Indiana's recent struggles.

"People ask me if I'm mad at them," Bird told the Star. "I'm not mad. I'm disappointed."

Bird supports coach Frank Vogel but also believes that Vogel needs to be more aggressive with the players.

"I'm sort of going to Frank's side because he's had so much success by staying positive," Bird said. "We do have to stay the course. But I also think he's got to start going after guys when they're not doing what they're supposed to do. And stay on them, whether you've got to take them out of the game when they're not doing what they're supposed to do, or limit their minutes. I will say, he hasn't done that enough."

Bird also believes the players -- several of whom have garnered more media spotlight with the Pacers leading the East all season -- must be more focused.

"I was around this in Boston all the time," Bird told the Star. "I just laugh about it; it's a new world for a lot of these kids. They've somehow got to block it out and stay focused. Sometimes, I think, they're not 100 percent committed to their jobs."

For now, Bird said he still has faith in the team, which saw Andrew Bynum make his debut against the Celtics and brought aboard guard Evan Turner at the trade deadline.

"One thing I'd be nervous about is pointing fingers," Bird told the Star. "'Well, so-and-so isn't doing this or that.' I haven't seen that yet, but that's a sure sign you've got a problem."

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