INDIANAPOLIS -- Donnie Walsh sat courtside at the arena he built, looking on at the team he built, and talked about the reason why he keeps coming back.
"I don't know what it is," Walsh said. "I've been doing it so long, it's -- I don't want to say it's a big part of my life, because that's not true -- it becomes a part of who you are. And I don't want to end it until I'm done and happy with it."
Walsh, who made the trip here with the team, is much happier with the results of his work over the last three years in rebuilding the Knicks, who after Sunday's 110-109 win over the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse, have won seven straight games with two regular season games left before the playoff begin.
But is he done? While his focus will be on the present, the future -- at least his -- remains unsettled. Walsh's contract will expire on June 30 unless Garden executive chairman James Dolan decides to pick up an option for 2011-12 before an April 30 deadline.
Walsh considers his status to be among "offseason issues" and regularly declines to discuss it. Meanwhile, speculation begins to surface about the possibility that he would return to the Pacers if Larry Bird, the current team president, decides to walk away after this season.
"I'm angry about that because there's absolutely no truth in that," said Walsh, whose wife, Judy, still lives here full-time while Walsh stays in New York. "I've never talked to [Pacers owner] Herb Simon or anybody else about it, so, to me, it's just something that somebody else made up. I don't know where they're getting it from."
Meanwhile, Bird on Saturday told the Indianapolis Star that had the Pacers not made the playoffs, he likely would have left the franchise. Bird has been an executive with the franchise since 2003. Over that time, Bird has seen the Pacers go from one of the league's elite franchises to a lottery team laden with off-the-court issues, from the brawl with the Pistons at Auburn Hills to trouble with guard Jamaal Tinsley. Indiana fans, who were once so fiercely loyal to the franchise, have grown fed up. Conseco Fieldhouse is rarely full.
This season ends a four-year drought without a playoff berth, but it wasn't without more controversy, as Jim O'Brien was fired after 44 games. There also remains ongoing issues with the behavior of second round pick Lance Stephenson.
At this point, Bird appears to be undecided.
"My wife's been in this for 30 years now," Bird told the paper. "She's never told me she wants me to quit what I'm doing, but twice this year after really tough losses, she's asked me, 'Larry, why are you doing this?' She's never asked me that before."
Walsh said he was not surprised to hear about Bird's uncertainty.
"It goes back to what I've talked to you guys about before, he doesn't need it," Walsh said. "If it's interfering that much with his lifestyle, I can see him saying, 'Well, I'll go down to Florida and fish all day.' He's all set. No problem. So you're only doing it for as long as you like it."
In that regard, Walsh, who turned 70 last month, can relate.
"He's like me," he said, "he's a junkie for adrenaline."
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* - Carmelo's game-winning jumper -- he called it "Another Melo moment" -- was the 16th go-ahead field goal made in the last 10 seconds of a game in his career. That total is now the most by an NBA player since the 2003-04 season, which moved him ahead of Kobe Bryant (15). Ray Allen (11) and Dirk Nowitzki (10) also top the list.
Anthony is now 19-for-39 in shots that either tie or put his team ahead in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime, which is the highest percentage of any active player in those situations since 2003-04.
* - Jared Jeffries filled every column in the boxscore and accomplished a rare perfect shooting performance that included another rarity: a three-pointer. Jeffries was 2-for-2, including a corner three, and had seven points and five rebounds in 20:15 off the bench. It appears Mike D'Antoni is set on using Jeffries off the bench as either a forward or center, with Shelden Williams and Ronny Turiaf platooning at the center position.
* - Amar'e Stoudemire, who sat out for a second straight game with a left ankle sprain, said the ankle was improving and offered a "maybe" when it comes to Tuesday's home finale against the Bulls. The game still has meaning for the Bulls (60-20), who still have a shot at finishing with the NBA's best record (the league should have an NHL-style President's Trophy). They trail the Spurs (61-19) by one game. The Knicks may not have anything left to accomplish by then, however. If the 76ers lose to the Magic tonight at home, the Knicks would clinch the sixth seed. They can not climb any higher (the Hawks own the tiebreaker for fifth).
* - REMINDER! The first-ever Fixer Mixer is TOMORROW at Stout on 33rd Street near the Garden. We'll be there from 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. to meet and mingle with fellow Fixers and Knicks fans. There is no cover and the first 250 fans will receive a free, limited edition Knicks Fix t-shirt. Come on out and meet your fellow Fixers and, if you want, me. Thanks for all the support you've given us here over the years.