This seems to refer directly to Vogel’s relationship with George, who was clearly coasting at points in the regular season and who took a while to engage after starting off the season being told he was moving position against his will. If Vogel is being replaced by George because Bird feels after six years that the two will never properly get on and George is the priority, then perhaps this is, and long has been, unavoidable.
Yet concurrent with this, Bird admits to a hands-off, distant approach to his front office management, one in which he does not speak to the players himself. The decision to move George to power forward was eminently logical, but no one asked or forewarned George of the intent, so it is surely no wonder he was unhappy with it. If a “new voice” is needed, maybe Bird could have been that new voice back then.
Beyond George, the “new voice” critique seems hard to evidence. Was a new voice going to invigorate the always lackadaisical Lavoy Allen, shorten Bismack Biyombo’s wingspan and keep him off the offensive glass, fix Miles’s jump shot, stave off injuries or stop Monta Ellis’ decline?
When Bird decided (he now admits) that Turner was good enough to abandon forcing the small ball brand and play in a more traditional style during the middle of the year, what chance does a coach have to succeed?
Set up to fail, Vogel still nearly succeeded. A new coach may come in and progress to the second round next year, but this is not a failing on the part of Vogel, who took injuries, a talent dearth, high roster turnover and a significant change in the NBA’s culture and still managed two Conference Finals appearances.
Change for the sake of it is rarely, if ever, anything but a backwards step. And if Larry Bird knows what he wants, he does not seem to have done a very good job of communicating it.
Vogel will land again somewhere soon. Of course he will – he is proven quality in a league that still trots out retreads due to the lack of said proven quality. It will be most interesting to see what he can do with a new team behind him.
Many a good coach leaves their team because of some animosity or some irretrievable situation that submarined an otherwise profitable tenure, as was the case with Thibodeau. But Vogel leaves under no such cloud. The only cloud is over the front office who let him go without much explanation, and for whose failings he is the scapegoat of.