Greatest Players in NBA History: Larry Birdas voted on in this project and discuss some of his career accomplishments…in other words, what made him so great that he deserves a spot among the greatest? This week’s player is Larry Bird, the most intimidating NBA player of my childhood.
My first favorite NBA player was Julius Erving...Dr. J. My second favorite player early on was Earvin Johnson...Magic. As such, my most hated player was Larry Joe Bird. I hated him because he ALWAYS hit the shot...got the call...made the play that made my favorite players' lives miserable. He was like a robot out there. If he took a key shot I just closed my eyes, because I knew it was going in. If Doc's 76ers were up by one point with five seconds left I was petrified, because I knew the Celtics were going to go to Bird. Hatred and fear of Larry Bird made the Boston Celtics my least favorite sports franchise.
But here's the thing...I only hated him because he was so darn GOOD!
On paper Bird was an unlikely superstar. He was a 6-9 combo forward that wasn't especially quick, couldn't jump especially high, and wasn't especially strong. But my gosh, was he an offensive genius. He could make every shot in the gym, and what's more he KNEW that he could make every shot in the gym. Bird's confidence and swagger were out of this world, which is why he made so many huge shots. But Bird's impact was about much more than scoring...he was also blessed with some of the greatest court vision that I've ever seen. Outside of Magic Johnson, I've never seen another player that big who could see the court and pass like that. Add in a real knowledge of angles and grittiness that also made Bird very strong on the boards and deceptively good as a team defender, and you get a player that some argue is the greatest of all time. Some facts about Bird:
1) Bird joins Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only three players in NBA history to win the MVP award in three straight seasons. He also finished in the top-2 of the MVP vote for six straight seasons and was top-4 in each of the first nine seasons of his career.
2) Bird broke Chamberlain's record for consecutive seasons averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game by doing it in five straight seasons. In NBA history only Bird and Kevin Garnett have accomplished this feat.
3) As a rookie Bird led the Celtics to one of the greatest single-season turnarounds in NBA history, as the Celtics improved from 29 wins the year before Bird's arrival to 61 wins in Bird's rookie year, a 32-game improvement. This achievement helped Bird win the Rookie of the Year in 1980 over fellow rookie Magic Johnson.
4) Everyone thinks of offense when they think of Bird, but Bird also was a three-time member of the NBA All Defensive 2nd team and led the entire NBA in defensive win shares in four seasons.
Where do you weigh in on Larry Legend? Who was better between him and Magic?