Larry Bird is returning to the Indiana Pacers as president of basketball operations, the team confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Bird, 56, will replace Donnie Walsh, 72, who will become a consultant for the team, said Jim Morris, president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
The team formerly announced Bird’s return at a Thursday morning press conference. His first day will be July 1.
Bird’s return comes almost exactly a year after he resigned as the Pacers' president of basketball operations, citing health issues.
He said he was feeling much better after a year off, and he enjoyed watching the team he helped build go 49-32 in the regular season and advanced to within a game of the NBA Finals.
“We got a great team, I know the system,” Bird said Thursday morning at a news conference. “I know what we need here to fulfill our dreams. The team is going to be good, better than good. The ultimate goal is to win a championship.”
“There’s some work to be done," he added. "It’s good to be back. We are on the right track here. Hopefully we can move it forward it another step.”
The team said Bird will not be involved in Thursday night's NBA draft, in which the team has the 23rd and 53rd picks.
The NBA Hall-of-Famer coached the Pacers from 1997 to 2000. He returned as president of basketball operations in 2003. Last year, shortly before his resignation, he was named the NBA’s executive of the year.
Bird was instrumental in building the current roster of the Pacers, which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals this summer before losing a seven-game series to the eventual NBA champions, the Miami Heat.
In a statement, the Pacers said Bird committed to a multi-year deal.
Pacers owner Herb Simon said in the statement that the combination of Bird, Walsh and Kevin Pritchard, who will remain general manager, "will give us three of the best basketball minds in the business."
Simon said that when Bird left last summer he told him the door was open for him to return.
Bird said in the statement that “the year off gave me a chance to reflect, to rest, to take care of some health issues, and it re-charged me. Donnie and Kevin did a great job, and I will lean on both heavily as we move forward toward the goal of competing for a championship.”
Walsh was president of the Pacers from 1988 to 2008, when he left to assume a similar position with the New York Knicks. After three years in New York, Walsh returned last year when Bird stepped down.
“I met with Larry when he wanted to leave last year and I said I would do this until he was ready to come back,” Walsh said in the statement. “Well, he’s ready, and I couldn’t be happier"