Pacers’ Herb Simon, Jim Morris, Larry Bird comment on acquiring Mad Ants franchise

The Indiana Pacers have completed a deal to purchase the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA’s Development League. The organization made the announcement at a press conference held in Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Center.

Read comments from team owner Herb Simon, Pacers Sports & Entertainment Vice Chairman Jim Morris and President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird below.

Herb Simon:

We are proud to extend the Pacers brand into Northeast Indiana and excited about continuing the tradition of professional basketball in Fort Wayne. We will work closely with the Mad Ants staff to provide support and expertise on both the business and basketball sides and we hope to build on their enthusiastic fan base.

Jim Morris:

This is a very significant day for Pacers Sports & Entertainment. We own the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever, and we manage Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. We believe that our company is at the heart of basketball — a great sport in our state.

And today we are here to announce that we have concluded the opportunity to acquire, to buy, to purchase, to own the Mad Ants from Fort Wayne, Indiana [applause].

Herb Simon, our owner, a remarkable man, always does things the right way, will never take advantage, will never cut the corner, and will always do it in such a way a terrific face is put on the team and the community.

Larry Bird:

We’re here today because of Herb Simon. We had opportunities to look at other franchises, go different places, but when it came right down to it, he wanted this franchise.

Matter of fact, he took over the negotiations and don’t ask me what he paid for it. I have no idea. But he wanted it, he’s got it, and now it’s up to us to use it to our full potential.

Over the years, I never thought very much about sending players up here. We have occasionally but it seemed like we were really getting in their way. They’re trying to win games on a nightly basis. We send a player up here, and maybe he gets one practice in, he don’t know the offense, and obviously we wanted him to play 35 minutes a game. But [Team President] Jeff [Potter] is trying to win basketball games. And the coach is trying to win.

What we’re going to do is try to implement our offense and defense to the coaches up here and keep it pretty similar to what we’re trying to run down with the Pacers. And if we can tie it all in, when we send a player up for a few games or a half of year, he can fit right in — and he can come right back to us and fall right back into place.

I see us moving more players up here. We have a lot of young players, a lot of good, young players. But after you practice for two or three weeks and you don’t get in no games, what a better opportunity than to come up here and play five or ten games.

I just think it’s going to be awesome for us, it’s going to be special for our franchise, and we hope Fort Wayne and the Mad Ants fans come out and watches them play and support these young kids because we’re here for a reason and that’s make our basketball team better.

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