Larry Bird happy for Rick Carlisle

INDIANAPOLIS -- Larry Bird is happy Rick Carlisle finally got his ring.

The Pacers president told reporters Thursday that the combination of Carlisle's coaching style and the Mavericks' personality was a perfect match, and that they took advantage of the opportunity to bring home Dallas' first NBA title.

"I'm very happy for him," Bird said. "Rick puts a lot of time in it, he's very dedicated to this sport and he had a team that was perfect for him. I'm not surprised."

Bird knows Carlisle well.

The two were teammates in Boston and coached together on the Pacers staff for three seasons.

When Bird retired as coach following the 2000 season, he took a brief break from basketball, then returned to the front office. Indiana hired Carlisle, the former Pistons coach, to replace the fired Isiah Thomas.

After four seasons, Carlisle stepped down as coach, spent one season in the broadcast booth and then took the Dallas job, which gave him a chance to rebuild his reputation and, finally, win a championship.

Carlisle's tenure in Indy was best remembered for The Brawl in Detroit. But the decision to leave Indy didn't split up the longtime friends.

Bird acknowledged he's continued to stay in touch, mostly through text messages, and they were sending messages back and forth throughout the Finals.

"I don't think there were any locker room problems out there, and I think all of those guys were dedicated to winning a championship," said Bird, who won three titles in Boston and took Indiana to the Finals in 2000. "They got in position to do it and they took advantage of it."

Bird believes it could happen again.

He thinks the Mavericks and Heat could have a rematch next season and that Carlisle's team may not be finished winning championships.

But Bird does have one regret: Carlisle never won a title with him in Indiana.

"First, I want to make this team better," Bird said. "And maybe, someday, he'll want to come back here."