TERRE HAUTE – Subtle reminders that one of basketball’s greatest players once dominated at Indiana State University are spotted throughout the Hulman Center, where the Sycamores play their home basketball games.
A picture of a young Larry Bird sits in a case with the 1979 NCAA championship runner-up trophy. The Sycamores went 33-1 that year and lost to Michigan State in the finals.
Nearby are four pictures that show Bird from his days as a collegiate star.
But on Saturday morning, before the Sycamores faced Ball State in the season opener, University officials unveiled a bronze trophy of Bird, sporting a Sycamores jersey and in mid-jump shot form – a noticeable reminder of Indiana State’s greatest days in basketball.
I never dreamed of anything like this and that’s why it’s so special, Bird said.
Bobby Slick Leonard, a former coach and current radio analyst for the Indiana Pacers, called the statue breathtaking.
That statue right there is going to be an inspiration to a lot of students and athletes that come here to Indiana State as well as the memory of that ’79 ball club, Leonard said.
That’s the whole intent.
The dedication ceremony and a moment at halftime where Bird was introduced to Lar-ry, Lar-ry chants from fans, wrapped up a weekend that included a fundraising dinner on Friday for the Larry Legend Scholarship Fund.
University President Dr. Daniel J. Bradley said it was the single-largest and most successful fundraiser in the university’s history and raised nearly $400,000.
The statue stands just over 17-feet tall after being set in front of the Hulman Center. The goal from the beginning was to make it larger than the 12-foot tall statue of Magic Johnson at Michigan State. The Johnson-led Spartans beat the Sycamores in 1979. Johnson later became a rival of Bird’s in the NBA.
There was talk Johnson may attend the dedication.
That’s probably why he didn’t show up, Bird said.