Larry Bird Rumors

“You don’t reach that level of excellence and not have some part of your personality that is extreme,” Armstrong said. “For my whole life, that was just normal. If you’re going to be the best, there’s a certain something that pushes you over the top. When you get to the NBA, everyone has talent, everyone can score, everyone’s a good athlete. What separates the good players from the great players? Well, there’s something extreme about your personality. It’s a little different than everyone else’s. Whether you’re a Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, what have you, these are highly competitive people.”
“[Williamson is] a guy that drives eyeballs and attention,” said the Eastern Conference executive, before referencing another rising star coming off an injury who met a title favorite in the NBA playoffs almost 30 years ago. “[The NBA] would love to have a Michael Jordan versus the ’86 Celtics moment in the first round,” the executive continued. “If they could get their ideal world, that’s what they would want.”
Nearly 40 years have passed and the once ‘twin towers of the paint’ in Boston, have still not cleared the air or mended fences. It’s said Bird holds grudges from what he perceived was Cedric ‘quitting’ on their 1985 team (Maxwell was actually very seriously injured). But Bird has not made many public comments about Maxwell at all. It’s almost as if the two never combined to make the NBA’s best front line with Robert Parish and enabling Kevin McHale to dominate the 6th man position. Maxwell on the other hand, has always been outspoken and though slightly more measured than usual when it comes to his tense relationship with Larry Legend, he still has spoken out more than once, including calling Kevin Garnett ‘the best all-around Celtics.’
Before “NBA Inside Stuff” was a show, it was a pilot, and before it was a pilot, it was an idea, created inside the offices of NBA Entertainment. It was 1989. The NBA was finishing a decade of promising growth. In 1980, NBA Finals games were infamously aired on tape delay by broadcast partner CBS. But the rivalry of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had propelled the league forward, and the singular star of Michael Jordan was poised to push it to new heights. As the league prepared negotiations for a new network television deal, they conceived a pilot for an unnamed show. It featured a young broadcaster named James Brown, then with CBS Sports, and sought to marry two things. “Sports with pop culture,” said Don Sperling, then a top executive at NBA Entertainment.
However, one former player who had his fair share of success during his career, believes that the conversation being limited to only LeBron and Jordan is a mistake. Clyde “The Glide” Drexler was a household name during his storied career with the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, and he thinks other players deserve to be in the “GOAT” conversation. “I really have a problem with that. Because out of all the guys that played the game, you’re only having a conversation with these two guys as the GOAT,” Drexler said in an interview on The A-Team, a Houston-area sports podcast. “When you got Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the greatest players who ever lived, I think you should start with those two. You got guys like Larry Bird, Dr. J, George Gervin, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West all of those guys are in the conversation. I love both Michael and LeBron but let’s not take something away from the other guys who played.”
Storyline: GOAT Debate
However, one former player who had his fair share of success during his career, believes that the conversation being limited to only LeBron and Jordan is a mistake. Clyde “The Glide” Drexler was a household name during his storied career with the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, and he thinks other players deserve to be in the “GOAT” conversation. “I really have a problem with that. Because out of all the guys that played the game, you’re only having a conversation with these two guys as the GOAT,” Drexler said in an interview on The A-Team, a Houston-area sports podcast. “When you got Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the greatest players who ever lived, I think you should start with those two. You got guys like Larry Bird, Dr. J, George Gervin, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West all of those guys are in the conversation. I love both Michael and LeBron but let’s not take something away from the other guys who played.”
Storyline: GOAT Debate
Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days. The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” Bird: “You b***h, f**k you.” Jordan: “Y’all gave us a run for our money.” Bird: “Yeah, I’ll see ya.” Jordan: “All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours.”
Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days. The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.” Bird: “You b***h, f**k you.” Jordan: “Y’all gave us a run for our money.” Bird: “Yeah, I’ll see ya.” Jordan: “All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours.”
Not so fast on crediting Jordan with the league’s ascension, according to former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who was speaking with ESPN 97.5 The Game after the first four episodes of The Last Dance. McHale had the below to say: “No Michael didn’t build this league, because I was in the league before it was built. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird built this league, along with David Stern. David Stern had an unbelievable vision for this league.”
Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary
The conversation then transitioned to who is the best player. That’s when things got heated. “Michael and Magic got into it. They were talking back and forth with each other, and it was really funny. I was sitting over there with Larry Bird and we were just watching,” Rashad said. “Then finally, Michael gets very upset and says, ‘Listen, all I’m telling you—I’m telling you, Larry, and I’m telling you, Magic—if you don’t quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass. When I come to your arena, I’m busting your ass. I’m warning you right now, you better quit.”
“It’s been a great honor to be out here,” he says. “There’s only one place I’d rather be — French Lick.” On the next beat, the opening notes of John Mellencamp’s 1985 song “Small Town” drop in, and the viewer is treated to three minutes of classic Bird highlights spliced with shots of his Indiana hometown, while Mellencamp sings about having “a ball in a small town.” If you were a kid who happened to collect the “NBA Superstars” VHS tape upon its release in 1990, it’s possible you watched this moment, say, 200 times. Such was the power of its simple premise: NBA highlights set to popular music. “Even Bird admitted he loved it,” said Don Sperling, a former executive producer at NBA Entertainment.
In an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Monday, Magic debunked that claim. “You have to be with each other for two months, and there was four or five guys who just had problems with him. He was unfortunately not going to be a part of the Dream Team because of those problems, because we all had to live with each other for two months, practice with each other, hang out with each other, all those things,” the NBA icon said. “That doesn’t take away from Isiah’s career or who he is as a man, but at the same time, Isiah has to own up to his own problems and say: ‘Hey, you know what? I had a hand in in that, in that situation.’ Now, did I have a hand in him not being on the Dream Team? No. They didn’t ask me who should be on the team. The only thing David Stern and Rod Thorn asked me to do was to call Larry Bird and Michael Jordan and tell them they should play on the Dream Team.”
Game 5 of the 1991 first-round series against the Indiana Pacers might not be the most elegant or important game of the original Big 3 Celtics era. But this game has lived on in Celtics lore for one reason: Larry Bird’s incredible return from smashing his head on the parquet floor. The 34-year-old Bird had missed 22 games that season due to a compressed nerve and ruptured disc in his back and the pain had gotten so bad that he spent the night before Game 5 in traction in the hospital. When Bird had back surgery after the season was over, the surgeon said, “I don’t see how he played with what he had.”
“When I hit the floor, I thought I broke my jaw, because I couldn’t move my mouth,” Bird told the Pacers website in a 2004 piece pairing his interview with that of Indiana’s Chuck Person. “I was in a lot of pain, but I could hear the crowd out there and I thought, ‘I can’t leave those guys out there all by themselves.’” Bird lay motionless as the Pacers ran the floor to draw a foul, but he soon got up and walked back to the locker room. It would turn out he broke his cheekbone and he was told his night should be over. “The doctor told me I probably had a concussion and they didn’t think I should go out there with both the back and the damage I did to my brain,” Bird said. “I rattled it a little bit.”
Since Thomas competed against some of the greatest players of all time, I ask him before he gets off the phone to rank, 1-5, the best players of all time based on his first-hand experience — those he saw, those he competed against. He gives me this list: Kareem Bird Magic Jordan Dr. J “None of them can adequately tell their story without the Detroit Pistons,” he says. “Either we were good or we weren’t.”
Storyline: GOAT Debate
The former Lakers star joked that when Jordan met him and Larry Bird—whose Celtics had won the three titles not captured by the Lakers during the 1980s—when the Dream Team gathered ahead of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, he made clear the NBA had entered a new era. “He [Jordan] told Larry [Bird] and I: ‘Hey there’s a new sheriff in town. That’s me and the Bulls,'” Magic added. “We had to start laughing and said: ‘Michael you’re right.’ And man he did not disappoint either.”
Brooks remembers many of his on and off-court interactions with Jordan. He can recall the first time he ever guarded him. “I remember it almost like it was in slow motion. I said ‘I cannot believe I’m guarding Michael Jordan,'” Brooks said. Brooks said he got that same feeling when he faced up Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. And now looking back, those experiences seem surreal.
No. 22 Jimmy Butler: “I played (in Chicago) with one of the toughest individuals I’ve ever played with in my life — Taj Gibson. He taught me so much about how to be a pro. Sometimes people choose numbers because of someone that inspires them, and Taj is one of those people. I wore 33 at Marquette. In high school, I wore No. 1 because of Tracy McGrady. My best friend, who’s a brother to me and (who) I moved in with, was No. 33. And as much as his family had done for me, I chose it because his mom’s favorite player was Larry Bird, and then it kind of stuck. It was all because of Larry Bird and Jordan Leslie.”
Michael Jordan once said, “Larry Bird is the greatest trash talker and mind-game player of all time. He taught me everything I know about getting in folks’ heads.” That was reason enough to call 17 of Bird’s former teammates and opponents and ask for their best trash-talking stories about Larry Legend. They delivered. Leo Rautins, opponent: I say this in the utmost complimentary way: Larry was a prick. Kevin Gamble, teammate: He would run by you and say, “I told you, motherfucker. I told you I was going to do that.” Or he’d smack you on the butt and say, “Nice try.”
Terry Porter, opponent: My rookie year in Boston. He had the ball in the deep corner. I was sprinting to close out and he was in his famous form, and he shot it and as I was running out he said, “Too late, rookie.” I didn’t even know he was a trash talker. I got to the bench and told Clyde (Drexler) and he was like, “Yeah, he does that all the time.” Mike Gminski, opponent: He’d drive down the lane and I’d try to go up and block his shot, and he’d say, “What are you jumping for? You’re not going to get this.”
Gminski: I was with the 76ers at the time. We go up by one with about four seconds to go. They call timeout, get the ball at half court. Barkley is guarding Larry. Bird comes up to him and says, “You know who’s getting the ball, don’t you?” Charles kind of nodded his head. Larry said, “I tell you what I’m going to do: I’m going to get the ball, take two dribbles down the baseline and shoot a fadeaway jump shot.” I’m on the weak side. I’ve got McHale. Bird takes two dribbles down to the baseline, fadeaway jump shot, and the ball was halfway to the net and I just started walking to our locker room. I knew it was good.
Bird is widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. Walton echoed that sentiment, telling NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine why Larry was the greatest player he ever played with: Larry did not want halftime. Larry did not want timeouts. Larry did not want days off in-between the games. He wanted seven straight days of basketball and the first team to win four, that’s fine. He was not into waiting around. He was certainly not into waiting around for any of his teammates. He was not waiting around for the coach. Not waiting around for the television schedule. Larry, he was ready to play and ready to deliver. And did he ever.
Chris Broussard & Rob Parker disputed a fan-voted bracket that put Michael Jordan & Larry Bird as the greatest college basketball player of all time. According to Broussard, Michael Jordan is not the greatest college basketball player of all time. “It is clearly Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And after him it’s probably Bill Walton. I don’t think Michael Jordan is even in the discussion of the greatest college player of all time,” he said.
The five-time NBA champion spoke to ESPN’s First Take this week to discuss various topics and would liken LeBron to himself and another NBA icon in Larry Bird, pointing out the superstar’s willingness to share the basketball, as well as his ability to attack the rim himself. “Lebron is just like Larry and myself, and he is so unbelievable when he’s coming down the court, his head is up,” Magic told First Take’s Max Kellerman. “He’s always willing to make the pass to make his teammates better, but also two, he can go down the middle and dunk on you.”
RICK CARLISLE, Dallas Mavericks coach, 60 years old, 188 games over five seasons, retired in 1990 The last pickup game I played in was in 2000. This was a pretty compelling thing to observe if you’re any kind of historian. It was me, Derrick McKey, Chris Mullin and Larry Bird against Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender, Jeff Foster and Zan Tabak. We played a three-game series. It was tied 1-1. In the third game, Bird came off a screen on the right side, caught and shot a 17-footer high above Jeff Foster’s outreached hand. The ball went straight up in the air and straight through the basket without touching the rim at all. Larry and I looked at each other and basically said, ‘We’re done with this after today.’ The game-winner will probably never be able to be topped. Plus, physically, playing against those guys, Foster was so strong and so dynamic that it was dangerous being out there. Larry and I both realized it. That was the last time I ever did it. And I’m positive that was the last time he did it too. I was 41 at the time.
StatMuse: Players with multiple Finals MVPs and an All-Star MVP in NBA history: Willis Reed Larry Bird Magic Johnson Michael Jordan Tim Duncan Shaquille O’Neal Kobe Bryant LeBron James Kawhi Leonard pic.twitter.com/xQZFNi6Tvu
Larry Bird was one of the the city’s biggest advocates for an NBA All-Star Game return. The last time Indy hosted, Bird played in the game representing the Boston Celtics. “Back in 1985, there wasn’t nearly as much to it,” said Bird, now a consultant with the Pacers front office, after the city landed the event. “Now, the All-Star game is a spectacle. Every venue we have Downtown will be full. People will be excited, I think it will be fantastic. We’re going to put on a great show.”
Justin Kubatko: Teammates with a 30-point, 15-rebound game and a 45-point, 10-assist game in the same game: ✅ Elgin Baylor & Jerry West ✅ Jerry Lucas & Oscar Robertson ✅ Kevin McHale & Larry Bird ✅ Tim Duncan & Tony Parker ✅ John Collins & Trae Young (last night)
Bird’s 60 points that day in March of 1985 remain the Celtics’ franchise record. He managed it on a mesmerizing array of shots. He knocked down one long jumper while twisting to his left, almost behind the backboard, with a defender in his chest. He hit a floater from just inside the free-throw line that threatened to scrape the ceiling before falling gently through the net. He nailed a fadeaway over Dominique Wilkins even though Wilkins had guessed exactly what he would do. “That was a magnificent display,” says Rick Carlisle, a guard on that Celtics team. “We didn’t have the internet or Instagram or Twitter where some of these shots could go out in the universe in real time. Otherwise, the legend of Larry Bird would even be bigger than what it is now.”
Other indicators suggest Bird would have been one of the top outside shooters in any era. He led the NBA in free-throw percentage four times. Though his career 37.6 percent 3-point shooting figure does not sparkle, a closer examination of Bird’s resume proves him far more capable. After struggling on limited attempts early in his career, he shot 39.4 percent from the start of the 1984-85 season to the end of his career even though his numbers dipped after he encountered several health issues late in his NBA life. He hit at least 40 percent of his 3-point tries during each of his four prime seasons, topping out at 42.7 percent in 1984-85. The league average that year was 28.2 percent. Today, it is 35.5 percent. “Most of us would get hot, get in the zone for a game,” Ainge says. “Larry would get in the zone for a month. He would have these 35-point games and 40-point games, just these long stretches of games where he was just on fire. He just was a great, great shooter.”
Larry Bird: “My family and I send our sincere condolences to David Stern’s family. There are no words that can really describe the far-reaching impact of Commissioner Stern’s brilliance, vision, fairness and hard work over so many years. When you think of all that he accomplished worldwide on behalf of thousands of players, so many fans, all of the jobs he created for team and arena employees and all of the people that benefitted from the many layers of growth in the sport and industry that David spearheaded and then passed on to others, there is no doubt Commissioner Stern lifted the NBA to new heights and he will be greatly missed by all of us.”
Storyline: David Stern Death
“This guy Pete, he was in charge of the ballboys, he comes in and says, ‘We have to let you go. Red Auerbach saw you cheering for the Knicks,’” Brown says. “I started laughing. ‘Everybody is trying to prank me, you got me.’ He says it again: ‘You’ve been fired for cheering for the Knicks.’” Brown learned later that Bird noticed his traitorous cheers while the Celtics were reviewing film of Game 1. Bird made an offhand comment about Brown’s allegiance and Auerbach, the Celtics GM/icon, overheard it. “Red Auerbach happens to be in there. Evidently, he took what Larry said as Larry being upset, like I was not a true Celtic,” Brown says. “He tells the equipment manager Wayne Lebeaux to get rid of me, not realizing that Larry was playing.”