Larry Bird has shown no mercy.
On Thursday morning, the news broke that the Pacers’ president of basketball operations decided to not renew the contract of head coach Frank Vogel.
Bird did Vogel dirty, axing the ties over the phone like a high school breakup.
Yet, Bird called Vogel “the best” at the news conference following the announcement.
If it wasn’t evident before, the Pacers live in Larry’s world and will abide to his decision making — good or bad.
In six seasons as the Pacers coach Vogel had a 250-181 record with five playoffs berths: winning 58 percent of the Pacers’ games.
Vogel led the Pacers to a pair of Central Division championships and to the Eastern Conference Finals twice where they fell to the LeBron Heat.
The Heat beat the Pacers in seven games in 2013, the year they won their championship, and again in six contests for 2014.
There was one glaring record that hurt the former Pacers coach.
The Pacers were 31-30 in the playoffs under Vogel.
This season, the No. 7-seeded Pacers nearly came away with an upset first-round playoffs matchup against the No. 2 Toronto Raptors.
In Game 5, the Pacers blew a 13-point lead in what could have determined the outcome of the series.
Many, including myself, blamed the on-court substitutions for that loss late in the game with the starters sitting for far too long.
However, the Pacers, on paper, should have never taken that series to seven games. They exceeded expectations.
The Raptors came into the playoffs with at 56-26 while the Pacers were 45-37.
Prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign, many didn’t expect the Pacers to even crack the top eight in the East.
Bird made it clear in past interviews that he wanted the Pacers to score more points, a facet that the team has lacked in recent seasons.
Vogel, a defensive-minded coach, had a top-10 or top-five defense in almost every year that he coached the Pacers.
The Pacers never put up big numbers offensively, but ultimately they got the job done most nights with just one superstar on the team.
He brought out the best in Paul George and made him an All-Star.
Vogel also turned Lance Stephenson into, for a short time, the best sixth man in the league and made Roy Hibbert a perennial threat at the rim.
Now look at those two in different systems — they’re not performing that well.
Not to mention 20-year-old Myles Turner, who should make first-team All-Rookie this season.
And lest we forget the insurgence of Solomon Hill, who put up a lot of solid minutes for the Pacers and earned a handful of starts. Side note: the Pacers would be foolish not to re-sign the free agent in the offseason.
Let it be clear that this was not a firing — Vogel was simply “let go” with his contract up.
He made $2.5 million in 2015-16, and was likely looking for big money via an extension.
Bird has a strange ideology that coaches have a three-year life span.
About 16 years ago, Bird fired himself as the head coach of the Pacers after three seasons.
Vogel wasn’t necessarily Bird’s first choice.
When Vogel got an extension in 2012, Donnie Walsh made that decision while Bird momentarily stepped down because of health reasons.
Bird retook Walsh’s position in 2013.
For Bird, it’s win it all or nothing.
It shouldn’t take Vogel long to find a job. He’s a fantastic coach and well-respected in the NBA.
My guess is, along with many other talking heads, he goes to the Knicks.
Finding a strong coach in the NBA is a rarity, and Bird needs to make a big hire to mend many Indiana fans’ broken hearts.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.