Indiana State University’s 1979 men’s basketball team will return to Hulman Center this fall for “Honoring a Legend” weekend.
Events include a dinner and recognition program Nov. 8 to raise funds for the Larry Bird Scholarship to benefit current and future student-athletes and the dedication of a larger-than-life statue of Bird on Nov. 9 prior to the Sycamores’ regular season opener against Ball State.
The events will not only honor the best basketball player to ever play at Indiana State “but one of the best to play at any level,” said Greg Lansing, Indiana State’s head men’s basketball coach. “It is an honor to be part of this event. A lot of people have had a hand in making this happen and are helping along the way. We hope to make it as big an event and as special an event as has ever taken place here.”
Lansing and Brad Miley, a member of the 1979 team that went undefeated in the regular season and made it to the NCAA championship game against Michigan State, agree Indiana State will likely never see another player quite like Bird.
“This is a once in a lifetime event,” Miley said of the Honoring a Legend weekend. “Larry is one of a kind. Will Indiana State ever have another great team like that? Yes, I think that’s possible, especially with the help of the Larry Bird Scholarship. The thing about our team and other great teams you may watch on TV is that team had a lot of pieces and sometimes they just fit together. We had a lot of people make sacrifices on that team who just basically knew their roles and played them to the hilt.”
Bird did things at Indiana State “that are next to impossible nowadays and then went on to be the special player he was in the NBA as well as a coach and executive,” Lansing added. “We recruit very hard and will always get the best players we can, but there will never be another Larry Bird.”
Miley said he is excited the 1979 team plans to re-unite for the Honoring a Legend weekend. He called his teammates “quality individuals that have gone on to success in other parts of their lives. That’s a good testament to a quality team.”
Lansing said everyone involved with the current Sycamore basketball program is thrilled not only about having Indiana State’s most legendary player return to Hulman Center, where he and his teammates captivated fans during three unforgettable seasons, but about Bird lending his name to a scholarship.
“As a basketball program, we couldn’t be more excited,” Lansing said. “The money raised from this event will fund a Larry Bird scholarship and then go directly to increasing our scholarship budget for current and future players. This is very important to helping us keep up with other programs in the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Phil Ness, associate vice president of athletics development for the Indiana State University Foundation, said, “Like the 1979 team’s run through the NCAA tournament, this is a potentially transformational event. It will bring past supporters of ISU back into the mix and introduce new donors to the great things going on at Indiana State.”
More than 70 percent of the cost of sponsorships and individual tickets to the dinner will represent a charitable gift benefitting Sycamore athletics and men’s basketball, Ness said.
“This event will not only honor Larry Bird but will also support ISU Athletics. Sponsorships for the Larry Bird Scholarship Dinner have been set in an effort to raise the bar for athletics fundraising at Indiana State,” he said.
Table sponsorships for the scholarship dinner start at $5,033 for a table of eight. Individual tickets for the Larry Bird recognition program are available for $33 or $133, depending on location. Proceeds from the events will establish an endowed student-athlete scholarship for men’s basketball that will enhance the entire intercollegiate athletic program, Ness said.
“The Larry Bird Scholarship will provide a full tuition scholarship for an in-state player on the basketball team,” Ness said. “This will help men’s basketball in the recruiting and retention of the top talent in Indiana and will honor and create a permanent legacy for our greatest player and arguably our most successful alumnus.”
More information about Honoring a Legend weekend, including details about sponsorships and program tickets, is at www.indstate.edu/LarryBird.