4 Fast Facts
- Nate McMillan introduced as new head coach of Indiana Pacers
- McMillan spent three years as Pacers assistant and will replace Frank Vogel
- McMillan said his team will "respect the game"
- Coach known for his "old school" mentality says he'll adapt to younger generation of players
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A little more than a week after announcing that Frank Vogel's contract wouldn't be renewed, Pacers president Larry Bird introduced Nate McMillan as the team's new head coach during a news conference Monday afternoon.
Bird said during a May 5 news conference that the team needed to hear "a new voice." That voice belongs to McMillan, who's spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Pacers. It's his third head coaching position in the NBA.
McMillan is a former NBA player who spent the entirety of his 12-year playing career with the Seattle Supersonics after being drafted out of N.C. State. He also served as head coach in Seattle before leaving to coach the Portland Trailblazers from 2005-2012. The Pacers hired him as an assistant in 2013 to replace Brian Shaw.
"Nate McMillan is the new coach of the Indiana Pacers," Bird said Monday. "I'm really excited to have Nate as a part of this."
Bird said he expected "good things" from McMillan as the team's new head coach. He told reporters he hadn't really considered McMillan as a head coaching candidate for the Pacers until he interviewed for the head coaching vacancy in Sacramento. After that, the light went off, so to speak, and Bird talked to McMillan about taking over the team. Bird said accountability for everyone is important for the franchise.
As for McMillan, he's become quite fond of the Indianapolis area over his three seasons as an assistant.
"I've just grown to love and respect this team, this organization, this community," McMillan said, adding that he understood how important the hire was for fans and the Indianapolis community.
He thanked Bird for the opportunity and said he was "totally committed" to improving the team. McMillan is well known for his tough-minded, "old school" philosophy, but he told reporters Monday that players have changed and coaches have to adapt to that. As for coaching the Pacers, McMillan said he didn't "chase" after the position and only accepted the job after deciding it was the right opportunity for him.
He called the ouster of Vogel, the man he'll replace, as a reality of the NBA.
"In our business, it happens. I sent a text to Frank (Vogel). You know, it happens to the best," McMillan said.
"I believe in Nate," Bird said. "I've admired him from afar for a long time... I like his demeanor. I like the 'old school.'"
Bird said he talked to a "couple" of Pacers players about the team's head coach, although he wouldn't specify exactly who he talked to. The Pacers president said he'd like the team to score more points and have a more efficient offense, an approach McMillan said he would take as head coach.
McMillan said he, Bird and the staff will take a look at the roster and see what pieces they can add in the draft. They'll also explore the free agent market and see what kind of team they can put together.
McMillan referenced his time as an assistant with USA Basketball, where he worked under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. He said it was a learning experience that gave him valuable lessons in connecting with young players.
"I've learned a lot," McMillan said of his coaching experiences through the years. "There is a lot of 'old school' in me. I won't lose all of that, but I do understand that you have to adapt to this generation of players."
And he said, first and foremost, he and his team will respect basketball in a state known for being crazy about the sport.
"We're going to respect the game. We're going to respect our opponents," McMillan said. "We're going to respect the name on the front of that jersey."