Longing for a lasting bond

From a distance, Corrie Bird happy for her father

By David Hughes

Corrie Bird would like to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for her famous father.

But she probably won’t see Larry Bird honored Friday at Springfield, Mass., at least not in person.

‘‘If I went, I would want to go with my dad,’’ explained the senior majoring in elementary education at Indiana State University, the same place where Larry set dozens of basketball records in the late 1970s.

‘‘And I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think it would be neat, but . . .’’

Corrie, 21, isn’t expecting an invitation of the verbal or written variety from her father anytime soon.

The 1995 graduate of Northview High School remains close to her mother Janet, Larry’s ex-wife, and her stepfather Mike Deakins. But the history of Corrie’s distant relationship with Larry Bird has been well documented by the national media in recent years. Television segments about her yearning for a bond with her dad appeared on ‘‘Oprah’’ and ‘‘20/20,’’ and another story mentioned it in Sports Illustrated’s May 4, 1998, edition.

Corrie said she still feels uncomfortable talking with her father, despite his continuing financial support.

During the 1997-98 NBA season, when Larry was making his successful debut as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, Corrie traveled with friends to Market Square Arena to watch several home games as the team marched into the Eastern Conference finals.

Of all her visits to MSA, the date that sticks out in her mind is April 17, when the Pacers downed Toronto. After that game, Corrie spent about 30 minutes chatting with her dad, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

‘‘He’s always really nice when I do see him,’’ she insisted.

But Corrie admits they have not spoken to each other since April 17.

‘‘It’s not really a relationship at all,’’ she said of how she views her father. ‘‘I wish it were. . . After the April 17 game, I was hoping that would change. But it hasn’t.’’

A message left for Larry Bird at the Pacers’ office in Indianapolis was not returned to the Tribune-Star.

Corrie wonders if the Sports Illustrated article, which did not portray Larry in a positive light, might have affected the attitudes of her father and stepmother, Dinah, toward her. Corrie said she didn’t realize the story would be about other athletes who fathered out of wedlock and their mothers.

Larry and Dinah also have two young children, Connor and Mariah.

Corrie said Dinah used to call her once in a while, but she can’t remember Larry ever calling.

Still, Corrie hopes her father enjoys his big day Friday.

‘‘I definitely think he deserves it,’’ she said of his Hall of Fame selection. ‘‘I’m really happy for him.’’

In her playing days: Corrie Bird, shown at a Northview Knights basketball practice, is now an ISU senior.

File photo by Bob Poynter

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