Rick Carlisle new Indiana Pacers head coach
The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday they have named Rick Carlisle, the 2002 NBA Coach of the Year, head coach.
"I'm very happy to have Rick on board as coach of the Indiana Pacers," said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. "I know our fans are familiar with him and I look forward to a great year. I've had great respect for Rick, both as a player and as a coach. He has tremendous knowledge of the game and I firmly believe he is the right coach for this team."
"When we decided to make a coaching change, I told Larry the replacement would need to be an excellent coach," said Pacers CEO and President Donnie Walsh. "I knew Rick was at the top of his list and for a good reason: he is an excellent coach."
"I'm obviously thrilled to be back in Indiana with an opportunity to work for the Pacers," said the 43-year-old Carlisle, who served as an assistant to Bird when he was head coach from 1997-2000. "I said when I left, this was one of the best jobs in professional sports and my opinion hasn't changed. I've always had great respect for and enjoyed working with Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird. I look forward to having that opportunity again."
After his three seasons with the Pacers, Carlisle took a year off from coaching and received his first NBA head coaching position with the Detroit Pistons in 2001. In two seasons with the Pistons, Carlisle compiled a 100-64 record and became just the second coach to record consecutive division titles and 50 wins in his first two seasons (Pat Riley was the other in 1981-82 and 1982-83). In 2002, he was named the NBA's Coach of the Year as the Pistons had an 18-game improvement from the previous season. He led the Pistons to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 1991 in 2003.
After playing in the NBA (Boston, winning a championship in 1986; New York; and New Jersey), Carlisle began his coaching career in 1989 as an assistant with the Nets. He spent five seasons in New Jersey, where he had the opportunity to work under Hall of Fame coaching legends Bill Fitch and Chuck Daly. Carlisle then moved on to Portland where he spent three seasons as an assistant under P.J. Carlesimo before joining Bird's staff in 1997.
Collegiately, Carlisle played two years at the University of Maine before transferring to the University of Virginia. He was co-captain of the Cavaliers' 1984 Final Four team. A native of Ogdensburg, N.Y., Carlisle graduated in 1984 with a BA in psychology. His interests off the court include golf, piano and spending time with his wife, Donna, and their two dogs, Moe Norman and Zoe.