While satisfied with coaching in the minor leagues, getting to the NBA was something Mackey had aspired to, as well. In 2004, former Boston Celtics icon Larry Bird, now president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, called Mackey out of the blue and asked him to be one of his scouts. "Playing in Boston, knowing he's from Boston, I had heard his name mentioned a lot of times," Bird tells the Phoenix. "People talk about his ability to bring players in. He always takes the toughest jobs and he always seems to get the talent in there."
Besides Mackey's obvious basketball acumen, it was something that transcended the game that prompted Bird to make that call.
"I believe in second chances," says Bird. "He earned the right to get back into basketball and he can be very valuable to a franchise."
What is Mackey like to work with?
"He's the best," says Bird. "You can't beat him. If you ask him a question, he's got an opinion. He loves to be at the games. He loves to find out the information, and for the years he has been with me, he has done an excellent job."
Mackey, who returns to Boston often to see his 95-year-old mother and three grown children, is extremely grateful for the opportunity. "I've been blessed by being able to stay in the game through good times and bad— now the times are good."
Jon Hart can be reached at email@example.com.
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