Once Larry Bird entered his 30s, his body began to betray him. After his balky back required surgery, it was only a matter of time before his Hall of Fame career ended somewhat prematurely.
In an interview with ESPN, Bird talked about the wear and tear he put on his body while he was playing and how running less and perhaps yoga could have extended his career and relieved stress on his back. If you read closely enough, you could imagine Bird being in a CrossFit class if he played today. Teammate Robert Parish was big into yoga and played until was 43 years old, so maybe he was on to something.
“The one thing I would’ve liked to have had was core strength. I remember [Robert] Parrish never touched the ball in the summer, but he did yoga. That’s a major part of it — stretching and breathing. But me, I had to run my 3 miles to warm up. I had to ride my bike 12½ miles. I had to sprint. I always felt that I had to do more, more, more. That’s why I broke down. That core strength, I think, would’ve taken care of most of that, other than the conditioning.”
All that chronic pain was probably a big reason why Bird says he felt relief when he retired. He says in the interview that he took every game so seriously and could never buy into seeing the big picture that is a long season.
“One game. My thoughts were always that that night was the most important game in the world. Everybody in the world was watching that one game. And I had to be the best player on the court and win that game that night. That was my mentality, and it stuck with me all the way through my career. But knowing that, I knew that I was going to pay for it in a hard way. That’s probably why, when I retired, after the press conference, I probably felt relief.”
Bird’s fitness regime started in sixth grade when a coach had him doing wrist exercises in a gym, something he credits for his deadly accurate shooting.
To me, the important takeaway here is an NBA legend says you should stop running so much. It’s bad for you. You’ve done more for your body sitting at your desk reading this content than you can do on a three-mile run, which could destroy your body. That’s a sports god talking, not me. Let’s all listen to him and spend the rest of the day doing as little physical activity as possible.