After Larry Bird fired Frank Vogel, it seemed, based on Bird’s comments, that the two differed philosophically on how to run an offense and that Vogel had lost his voice in the locker room.
Neither is necessarily accurate.
“Well, I don’t think there was any intent to have a perception that we differed in philosophy offensively,” Vogel, now head coach of the Orlando Magic, said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We didn’t have success offensively the way he wanted to, but we were very well-aligned with how we wanted to play stylistically. We were better on the defensive end. In terms of a change and the voice, I really think that was kind of the biggest reasoning behind the move. You got to respect Larry for that. He’s got to do what’s best for the franchise, even if it’s an unpopular move. I have no hard feelings toward the whole situation. I had a great experience in Indy and I’m ready to move on to Orlando now.”
Vogel, 42, twice led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals but was fired this year after what many considered an excellent coaching job. Getting fired and hired in a matter of weeks was quite the emotional roller coaster.
“That’s exactly what it was,” Vogel said. “It was a big swing. It is a gut punch when you’re let go in any situation. Obviously that was difficult right off the bat for me personally. But knowing that I would have to move my family was tough.”
Vogel said he had “significant interest from every team that had an opening,” but ultimately chose the Magic over the Grizzlies, among other suitors.
That was very flattering, very encouraging for me,” Vogel said of the interest he received. “(It was) something that kind of softened the blow a little bit, understanding that there’s something to move on to and another door is going to open pretty soon. I was encouraged about that.”
Vogel felt that Orlando, from top to bottom, offered the best overall fit.
“They have great ownership here,” he said. “That’s not to say that the others do not, but the DeVos family has a sterling reputation around the league and I had a great connection with (general manager) Rob Hennigan when we first started. I felt like that personal connection with the front office would be strong and I loved where this roster is.”
Orlando has several young, talented players, including Nikola Vucevic, 25, and Victor Oladipo, 24.
“They’re at a point in their growth and in their development (where they’ve) gotten through some of their growing pains the last couple of years,” Vogel said. “Much of that is behind them, and I feel like they’re, as a group, ready to enter their prime. It reminded me a lot of the team I took over in Indiana with a young Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert. We were able to take that team to some pretty special (heights). I feel like we could do the same with this group.”
After Indiana fired Vogel, many NBA coaches and analysts came to his defense, offering high praise for his ability on the sideline. Vogel appreciated that.
“It was a great feeling,” he said, “one that was a welcome one after a tough situation being let go by a team that I love and a city that I loved living in. I found a great landing spot for my career and for my family, and I’m just excited to be down here in Orlando.”