Jim Morris, president of Indiana Pacers Sports & Entertainment, spoke to an audience of nearly 170 at the Economic Club of Indiana luncheon held in Evansville yesterday.
Morris began with humor – issuing the same promise he claims Elizabeth Taylor made to each of her seven husbands: “Don’t worry honey, I won’t keep you long.”
It was clear from the outset of his presentation that few in the audience would have minded if Morris, one of the most accomplished humanitarian and business leaders of our time, had indeed run long, though he did not.
Morris spoke with eloquence and expertise on the contributions of Evansville to Indiana and the world, noting the ideas for Riley Children’s Hospital and the Smithsonian Institute came from the city. He also spoke of work with the United Nations’ World Food Program – which he led from 2002-2007, and, of course, leading the Pacers – which he says is “just as difficult” as his UN gig but “not as important.”
Morris addressed the problem of world hunger and its impact on children by analogizing that the number of children dying from hunger equates to 45 fully-loaded 747 aircrafts crashing — every single day. He thanked Sen. Lugar and other Hoosiers for some powerful contributions in the fight against hunger but reminded the audience that much work remains and spoke of his own “haunting feelings of insufficiency at not getting enough done.”
Morris spoke of the upcoming basketball season. He told of a conversation in which Pacers Team President Larry Bird (known as a player for his legendary work ethic) credited 2009 Pacers draft pick Tyler Hansbrough with being the hardest working player Bird had ever seen. When Morris pressed with “as hard as you worked?,” Bird replied, “even harder.”
Overall, Morris’ presentation was both insightful and reflective – describing life as being about the search for community and insisting that, “We all need to work harder at being advocates and working for each other.”
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