Larry Bird Rumors
“I tell my wife all the time, ‘You don’t see many 7-footers walking around at the age of 75,'” Bird, who’s 6-foot-9, says. “She hates it when I say that. I know there are a few of us who live a long time, but most of us big guys don’t seem to last too long. I’m not lying awake at night thinking about it. If it goes, it goes.” It’s a macabre outlook for Larry Legend — but he’s hardly alone in harboring it. Ask a bunch of NBA big men and the consensus is that their atypical size and the strains placed on their bodies during their careers cause them to deteriorate more quickly and die younger. The bigger they are, the younger they fall — or so they think. Is it possible they’re right?
Both members of that starting backcourt — Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge — suffered heart attacks. Ainge had his at age 50 and survived; DJ, at age 52, did not. Add Kevin McHale’s now permanently impaired foot and Bird’s and Walton’s struggles, and the nucleus of one of the greatest teams of all time is, 30 years later, deeply damaged goods.’ Bird, who turned 59 in December, says more research is clearly needed. “I have my own philosophies on that,” Bird says. “Guys that played the hardest in the league — big guys who ran their asses off — they are the ones in the most danger, I feel. Moses was one of those competitors. We build our hearts up when we are playing and then we quit performing at a high level, and our hearts just sit there. I don’t work out like I used to. I can’t. I can’t go out and run. I jog and have a little sauna, that’s about it. My body won’t let me do more than that.”
Q: Because this is a season where everything is evolving, with February coming up, are you less inclined to be active (regarding trades)? Larry Bird: It takes two teams. Two years ago it was Evan Turner and Danny Granger, that just came on the spur of the moment. You never know. I’m not saying we’re out there really looking hard, but we’ve got to pay attention. We’ve got some holes and if we can fill them, we will.
Q: When you talk about where the holes are, are you talking positionally or a skill set? Like a shooter, or ball movement, or defense. Larry Bird: It’s according to how you want to play, and I think everyone knows how I want to play. I’d like to have an athletic big and I’d like to have – whether it’s a point guard or a guy who can get us in the offense and play George (Hill) off the ball a little bit or put Monta on the ball – we’ve got good players, we just don’t have the big athletic guys that we like and need. I think we’ll be able to get that. Paul’s getting through this year and Myles is going to be an outstanding player and Mahinmi has had his best year. Mahinmi is playing great. (Against the Clippers), coming off an ankle injury and missing a few days, I thought he was excellent. I thought he played hard and aggressive. We have pieces, but we have some holes and we have to fill them.
Q: How close do you think this team is to being a contender? Larry Bird: For a championship? We’re not a contender. With our young guys, going forward, if we get the right pieces, yeah, we can be right back in it. But I don’t think right now with what we have as far as a solid group, I don’t think we’re a contender. That’s why I say the playoffs. We’re not a contender this year, but with our young guys, we’ll keep building on that and hopefully filling some holes this summer, then we can contend, no question.
Q: Speaking of Lance, are you surprised by how his career has gone since leaving here? Larry Bird: No. We had that conversation, too. Lance is a little different. I can’t talk about another team’s players, but he’s a little different. Q: You guys kind of structured everything for him. Larry Bird: We had a lot of people in place. Lance is a good kid, but he’s a little different.
Any time you can pass both Larry Bird and Gary Payton in the record books, you’ve accomplished something significant. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony passed both on the NBA’s all-time scoring list this week, including Payton in Saturday’s loss to the Hornets. Anthony now ranks 30th all time with 21,818 career points.