Isiah Thomas once said if he, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were put in a room together and told to battle it out, Bird would be the one left standing. Let that marinate.
Do yourself a favor and conduct a case study. Leave YouTube out of the equation and ask any old head or diehard fan of the game of basketball one question, “Who would you want taking the game winning shot, Jordan or Bird?” The good thing is, there’s no wrong answer. The unique thing is, count on your hand the number of times Bird is taken over MJ.
What that has to do with this video is not much, and yet everything. “The Hick from French Lick” was never a modern marvel of athleticism, one who played above the rim or a shutdown defender. What Bird was, however, was perhaps the most cold-blooded trash talker to ever play the game (more than Jordan and Payton) and a badass whose confidence was as scary as it was stoic.
There are plenty of gems in this compilation. For instance:
— Like that one time Larry described the reason he and Dr. J infamously came to blows in the 1984 playoffs
— Or James Worthy saying he would rather face Michael Jordan than Larry Bird
— Or when he bust Jerome Kersey’s ass in Portland…left handed…not because he was hurt, but instead, he needed something to pass time
— Or that time he hit a game winner in Washington only to have KC Jones call timeout before the shot. So upset, he told the Bullets he would shoot it from the same spot and win it. And he did.
— Or that one time he kicked Michael Jordan’s ball over the fence before a scrimmage in 1984 against the Olympic team
Bird was an equal opportunity asshole and ass-kicker. Do yourself another favor, too. Visit Sports Illustrated’s Vault of Larry Bird articles. Ruthlessness rarely ever seemed so poetic.