Larry Bird: 'All of My Donations Are Sort of Made Under the Table'

On the occasion of being honored at The Masquerade for his charity work, the Legend discussed his low-key philanthropy—and his expectations for the upcoming Pacers’ season.
The preseason is over. The regular season is about to begin. Over the weekend, the Indiana Pacers used the break to gather at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the annual Masquerade benefiting the Simon Youth and Pacers foundations, which raised $800,000 for Indiana kids in need.
They also honored one of their own, team president Larry Bird. While Bird tends to shun such recognition, keeping his charity work behind the scenes doesn’t mean he thinks it’s unimportant.
“All of my donations are sort of made under the table,” he said before the event. “I don’t need the publicity. I’m not doing it for the publicity. But I do care. And that’s what matters most.”
For Bird, the commitment to giving goes back to his upbringing in French Lick, “growing up in a small town” where he and his family “didn’t have a lot,” he says. “But we were greatly benefited by gifts and different things throughout my life as a young child. So it’s only fitting that I give back.”
Bird also took a few moments to break down the Pacers’ outlook for the upcoming season. Despite losses in the offseason—Paul George to a broken leg and Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets—Bird is expecting good things from the team.
“We’ve got some guys we think (are) going to step up and play well,” he said. “I thought George Hill was excellent during training camp, and he’s gotten a lot better. I’m just amazed at how much better he’s gotten.”
For other players, the absence of George and Stephenson is an opportunity—one that didn’t come often last season.
“We’ve got some young kids we want to see get more time,” he said. “Last year our bench didn’t play a whole lot. They played some minutes, so they’re going to get a great opportunity this year to play more.”
The Pacers tip off the regular season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on October 29 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Indy sports nut Heather Lloyd weighs in on all things Pacers and Colts on her blog, The Blue Mare.