It has been 42 years since French Lick native Larry Bird led the Indiana State Sycamores to the NCAA championship game to face Magic Johnson and Michigan State. His success on the court continues to attract visitors and drive business in his hometown.
“I travel extensively for work and when I’m talking about the French Lick Resort or this destination, I always get, ‘Oh home to Larry Bird.’ So that immediately lets people know where we’re at,” said Kristal Painter, executive director of the Orange County Economic Development Partnership in an interview with Around INdiana reporter Mary-Rachel Redman.
While not an official trademark for the community, it is high-profile branding that businesses are enjoying, including 33 Brick Street restaurant. The sports-themed pub offers burgers, brew and a heaping dish of “Larry the Legend” memorabilia.
“They were just looking for something unique to put in here. Just one or two items. Well, when they got to Larry’s, it wasn’t displayed. It was in a barn,” said Alysha Tomlinson, who works at 33 Brick Street. Tomlinson says Bird allowed the restaurant owners to use numerous pieces of property, including his college and NBA championship trophies. The eatery also includes Bird’s shoes and warmup jacket from his 1992 Olympic performance with the “Dream Team.”
“Everything was still in the duffel bag from the Olympics when it was brought here. [It] had never been removed,” remembered Tomlinson.
Another business taking advantage of the Bird aura is The Legend of French Lick Resort. The split-level home is the first house Bird built after entering the NBA. It includes six large suites that can be rented out. The 20-acre property also includes a basketball court, tennis courts and an outdoor pool.