Larry Bird was a great basketball player, one of the greatest ever. But he was probably just as good at trash-talking.
Bird played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. Due to chronic back problems, he retired as a player in 1992.
So, this is another story of Bird’s trash-talking – this time, recalled by another NBA legend, Dominique Wilkins.
Wilkins spoke with the Boston Herald, when he recalled Bird treating him, when he was still a newcomer in the NBA.
“One of the first times I ever played against him, I went out for the opening tip and I went to shake his hand. He just stood there and looked at me stone-faced with his hands behind his back,” Wilkins recalled.
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Then we were getting ready for the tip and he says to me, ‘You don’t belong in this league, Homes’,” Wilkins said. “I couldn’t believe it, but it happened so fast, I didn’t know what to think.”
Then Wilkins went on to add how Bird started talking with his game, instead of words.
“Then they had the ball and I was on him and he said, ‘I don’t know why they got you guarding me, Homes. You can’t guard me.’ Then, whap, he hit a 3. Then he came down again and said, ‘They made a mistake putting you on me, Homes,’ and he took another 3.”
“Then a little while later, I came down on a break and he was backpedaling,” Wilkins recalled. “I just went right after him. I jumped up and he tried to challenge, but I took that right through the rim. He fell and hit the basket support.”
“He got up and said, ‘I like you, rookie. You’ve got (guts).’ I was happy for a second, and then he said, ‘But I’m still going for 40 on you tonight.’”
He then paused the story and smiled.
“But I got him,” Wilkins said. “He only scored 39.”
Wilkins played 15 years in the NBA, earned his spot on the All-Star team 9 times. He holds career averages of 24.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 35.5 mpg in 1074 (started 995) NBA games. He scored 26,668 points in his career, playing for Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic.
Bird was voted to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He played a total of 897 NBA games (starting 870), averaging 24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 6.3 apg.
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