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[A few minutes later, Carlisle ambled by. "Hi, a------," Bird said.]
What else within the organization do you get involved in? Are you hands-on G.M.'s?
Vandeweghe: Very hands-on, involved in every aspect of the business: ticket sales, p.r. campaigns, putting together marketing strategy. I even like the salary-cap issues.
McHale: I don't believe that the mascot and the dancing girls win games or excite the fans, so I don't get involved in that part of the business. I think you can get in trouble by micromanaging. The most important nonplaying person in your organization is your coach. He deals with the players, who are the most important people, every day. You pick the coach--and you better make the right choice--then you're secondary to him in terms of being the face of the franchise.
Thomas: I'm involved in everything from the shoes we wear, how the coaches dress, what time we wake up, what we eat. If it says basketball, my fingerprints are on it. The other night I spent a lot of time talking about how we're supposed to stand during the national anthem--how we're not going to be chewing gum, how we're not going to be rocking back and forth, how we're not going to have our hands in our pockets.
As one of my coaches, Bob Knight, told me, "This is not a democracy; it's a dictatorship." That's what it is here.
Bird: The business stuff doesn't interest me as much as the basketball. Do I know the salary cap from top to bottom? No, but who does? I'm lucky. I have Donnie [ Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh] to lean on for that stuff.
Dumars: I feel the greatest responsibility in two areas: managing the cap to have the flexibility to make moves, and creating a culture of winning. How do you do that? By having my thumb on the pulse of everything. By constantly talking to the players and the coaches. By letting everybody know what will be tolerated and what won't. You have to set the tone when you're on this job.
What's the toughest thing about the job?
Ainge: The pressure to win and to put together a cohesive team. All in all, though, I find it easier to balance my life as a G.M. than I did as a coach. If something's bugging me now, I can get away for a while, go watch Duke-- North Carolina or BYU--Southern Cal. When you're a coach, you have to watch your team all the time.