TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State University is moving ahead with plans for a 15-foot-tall bronze statue honoring basketball great Larry Bird for his playing days with the Sycamores.
A statue has been discussed for several years, but officials now expect to dedicate it in the fall of 2013 at the school’s Hulman Center arena, the Tribune-Star reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/PLnqFh).
Sculptor Bill Wolfe said he wants to make sure Bird’s statue is taller than those of Magic Johnson, whose Michigan State team beat Bird’s Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA championship game.
“I don’t have anything against Magic,” Wolfe said.
“Larry is just better,” Wolfe then said in unison with Jack Fox, director of development for the Indiana State University Foundation.
Bird, who grew up in the southern Indiana town of French Lick, became a Basketball Hall of Fame member from his NBA career with the Boston Celtics. He stepped down this summer as the Indiana Pacers’ president of basketball operations after winning last season’s NBA executive of the year award.
Fox said he expects the Bird statue to be an icon for the city.
“I grew up in Terre Haute. I was 9 years old in 1979 when ISU was in the (NCAA) tournament,” Fox said. “I remember all the hype, but at 9 years old you don’t realize how big it is. Now it is neat to be a part of this honoring of Larry.”
Work on the statue started in 2007 with The Larry Legend Foundation, a student organization that sought to promote honoring Bird with a statute at Hulman Center. The project stalled last year after a donor came forward to complete the statue, but had sought a different artist than Wolfe.
As the university foundation’s development director, Fox said he met with the donor, who wants to remain anonymous, and “after some thoughts and discussions with the donor, we agreed that Bill (Wolfe) would be the best choice to make that happen. I was glad to see that change happen,” Fox said.
Wolfe now has four months to make a model of the statue and complete a clay version that a casting company will use to create the bronze statute.
Fox said the foundation is also planning to raise $50,000 toward a Larry Legends Scholarship by selling small copies of the statue.