Enjoy these 13 times the great Larry Bird was just a ruthless bastard
On March 12, 1985, Larry Bird had one of the best performances of his career, dropping 60 points on the Atlanta Hawks.
Here’s that torching in all its glory:
A great story has also lived on from that game. When Bird started rolling, hitting shot after shot, he began to call what he was going to do — how he was going to score, who he was going to score against and so on.
According to legend, coming down the court on his last shot of the game he said "in the trainer’s lap — who wants it?" Meaning, he was about to hit a deep 3-pointer in some poor soul’s face. "Then I think Reggie Brown, I’m not sure who it was, ran out after him," Doc Rivers, playing on that Hawks team, recalled about that night. "He shot this high rainbow, it goes in. Reggie bumps into him and accidentally knocks him on our trainer’s lap. So it was exactly what he said. It was an accident, but it was almost fate. They show a shot of our bench — Cliff Livingston and Eddie Johnson are standing up giving each other high fives."
It’s one of the many great trash talking stories that have been credited to Bird, who is remembered as one of the most cold-hearted bastards (in a good way) to ever play in the NBA. It’s a significant part of what makes him one of the sports best characters.
Since trash talking tales are always fun — hell, I’m a Lakers fan and love these Bird tales — here are 13 other times when Bird was brutally ruthless.
(Note: These are all according to various tales found on the Internet, details of which may have been fudged over the years. They’re fun regardless — just take them for what they’re worth. Enjoy.)
1. Bird humiliates the entire Dallas Mavericks bench
On one trip to Dallas, Bird told the Mavericks entire bench how he was going to get the ball on the next play and he would hit a 3. "So you got that?" Bird said. "I’m gonna stand right here. I’m not going to move. They’ll pass me the ball, and the next sound you hear will be the ball hitting the bottom of the net." Bird then nailed the 3 and winked at the Mavs.
2. Bird tells the Pacers to get a prayer
George McCloud was a rookie for Indiana in the 1989-90 season and was told to guard Bird during one game. How does Bird respond? He turns to Indiana’s bench and says, "Hey I know you guys are desperate, but can’t you find someone who at least has a prayer?"
3. Bird uses a timeless childhood quip
Bird was being guarded by Charles Smith of the New York Knicks and right as he released a shot he’d make to beat the Knicks, Bird said, "Sorry Charlie." Just cold.
4. Bird relentlessly taunts Dennis Rodman
When Dennis Rodman was playing for Detroit early in his career, he got assigned to Bird during a game against Boston. Bird made four consecutive baskets and proceeded to tell Pistons coach Chuck Daly, "Who’s guarding me, Chuck? Is anyone guarding me? You better get someone on me or I’m gonna go for 60." No matter how close up Rodman would get to Bird, trying to deny him the ball, Bird would playfully yell to teammates to hurry up and get him the ball "before they notice nobody is guarding me."
5. Bird wants to know the scoring record
Bird was known for going into opposing buildings and asking various people to find out what the scoring record was so he could break it. Sometimes he’d even ask his opponent. When the opponent would ask Bird why, No. 33 would respond, "Well, you’re guarding me, aren’t you?"
6. Bird is just so mean to poor Ben Poquette
Facing Chicago once, the Bulls put Ben Poquette on Bird. You’ve probably never heard of Ben Poquette, which was exactly Bird’s point when, on the way to 33 points in the first half, he looked at Bulls coach Doug Collins and said, "Ben Poquette? Are you f—ing kidding me?"
7. Bird says Merry Christmas to Chuck Person
Person went by the nickname "Rifleman" and said he was "going bird hunting" when Indiana faced Boston on Christmas Day. So before the game, Bird said he had a present for Person. After releasing a 3-pointer in front of Person on Indiana’s bench, Bird turned and wished him a "merry f—ing Christmas." The shot then went in.
8. Bird tells it straight to Reggie Miller
Miller is known as a superb trash-talker in his own right, which explains why he even had the balls to try to rattle Bird. Miller, then a rookie, was trying to get in Bird’s head at the free-throw line when Bird looked at him and said, "Rook, I am the best f—ing shooter in the league. In the league, understand? And you’re up here trying to f—ing tell me something?" Lesson learned.
9. Bird tells McDaniel exactly how he’s gonna get beat
Seattle’s Xavier McDaniel was once guarding Bird when Larry explained to him on the court, "I’m going to get the ball right here and I am going to shoot it right in your face." Bird got the pass, found the spot he told McDaniel he would and then buried the shot. "I didn’t mean to leave two seconds on the clock," Bird told McDaniel after the bucket.
10. Bird gives Aguirre the truth
What was Mark Aguirre thinking that one time when he hit a 3 on Bird and said, "Take a look at that." The audacity! Bird responded by hitting three consecutive 3s and coldly saying to Aguirre, "You’re out of your league."
11. Bird was even ruthless to his teammates
Bird didn’t save his biting commentary just for opponents. If he had a point to make to his teammates, well, they would receive it. Former teammate ML Carr once shared an example: "Larry said, ‘You guys want to win the game? Give me the ball and get out of the way.’"
12. Bird runs a heat check
Bird was on fire one time against the Utah Jazz, hitting everything. As has become abundantly clear here, he liked to talk to opposing benches during these times. So Bird launches a shot and tells the Jazz bench it was merely a "heat check" to see how hot he was. Later, he runs by Jazz coach Frank Layden and said, "Hey, Frank, haven’t you got anyone on the bench who can guard me?" Layden looked down his bench and then back at Bird: "No."
13. Bird knows where to find Craig Hodges
It was no surprise that Bird was dominant in the All Star Game 3-point shooting contest, winning the first three events beginning with the inaugural one in 1985-86. Before the event would even start he would ask the others participating who was competing for second place. When Craig Hodges won in ’89-90, with Bird not participating, he was asked whether his victory needed an asterisk because he didn’t go against Bird. "He knows where to find me," Hodges said. The words were taken to Bird for a response, who said, "Yeah – at the end of the Bulls’ bench."
(h/t Viral Hoops, YouTube, NBA and others)
Teddy Mitrosilis works in content production at FOX Sports Digital. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.