Larry Bird expects that he, like many of his NBA peers, won't live long life
Within the past year, the NBA has seen a spate of deaths among some of its notable retired big men -- among them Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and Anthony Mason, none older than 60.
And now Larry Bird admits, he doesn't expect to live to a ripe old age.
"I tell my wife all the time, 'You don't see many 7-footers walking around at the age of 75,'" the 6-foot-9 Celtics legend told Jackie MacMullan for a piece in ESPN Magazine about health issues for former NBA players. "She hates it when I say that. I know there are a few of us who live a long time, but most of us big guys don't seem to last too long. I'm not lying awake at night thinking about it. If it goes, it goes."
Bird, 59, has the heart condition atrial fibrillation. The deaths of Malone, Dawkins and Mason were heart-related. Cardiac issues constitute just one kind of risk more likely among those over 6 feet tall, according to studies mentioned in the article.
And Bird has his own theory about what happens to some NBA players after they retire.
"Guys that played the hardest in the league -- big guys who ran their asses off -- they are the ones in the most danger, I feel," Bird said. "Moses was one of those competitors. We build our hearts up when we are playing, and then we quit performing at a high level and our hearts just sit there. I don't work out like I used to. I can't. I can't go out and run. I jog and have a little sauna, that's about it. My body won't let me do more than that."