Larry Bird is widely considered to be one of the most iconic players in the history of the Boston Celtics and is argued to be one of the greatest NBA players to ever take the court. While many lifelong NBA fans will no doubt be acutely aware of who Bird is, plenty of younger NBA fans may know very little about the legend.
He is often touted for his incredible shooting at a time when players mostly loved to drive to the rim. He’s a 3-time NBA Champion, a 12-time all-star, and he was named to countless NBA teams during his roughly 13 years on the Celtics. He’s an impressive figure with incredible rivalries, but there are still tons of things that younger NBA fans should know about Larry Legend.
10 Bird Was A Part Of The Most Watched College Game Ever
A lot of people know that Bird is a legendary figure, but don’t quite understand how legendary he was in his time. People wanted to see Bird dominate so badly that even his college days were arguably just as important as any time he spent in the NBA.
Thanks to his popularity as a star player throughout his career, the incredible rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson was in high-demand even before their clashes in the NBA. Their championship game is a thing of legend and one that many college players aspire to replicate.
9 He Is An Olympic Gold Medalist
A lot of famous basketball players are also Olympic gold medalists, but it is important to give each and every one of them their due thanks to just how impressive a feat that truly is. While basketball is not the biggest sport everywhere in the world, being the best in the world is incredible.
Bird was a part of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and his team is the one that dominated the competition that year. It’s hard to imagine them not winning with the sheer amount of talent on the team including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson.
8 He Was Drafted For The NBA But Didn’t Play Initially
The rules around how players could be drafted have been changed over the years, and Larry Bird was a major factor in one of the changes. He was actually selected in the 1978 NBA Draft, but he didn’t end up playing for the Celtics until 1979.
The confusion surrounding his drafting is something that resulted in the creation of the Bird Collegiate Rule, a rule that stopped teams from drafting players who did not actually intend to sign on. Still, it’s likely Bird was able to angle himself for more money than he likely would have earned in the first place.
7 He Became The Highest Paid Rookie
While NBA funding has changed quite a bit over the years, Bird managed to claim the title of the highest-paid rookie during his era of play. At the time his $3.25 million dollar deal was probably more than enough to keep him happy and comfortable in Boston.
All that money was put into a five-year contract, something that would see the Celtics becoming two-time NBA Champions under Bird’s leadership. It’s clear the money ended up paying off for the Celtics even if it could have gone horribly wrong.
6 He Was A 12-Time All-Star
There have been a handful of incredible rookies that managed to become All-Stars, and Larry Bird is no different. Almost as soon as the Celtics added Bird to the team, they became a serious threat to just about any team in the league.
Everyone seemed to notice that fact as the team got better and better, and it wound up earning Bird a spot in the All-Star Game. Bird was an All-Star an impressive eight years in a row, and wound up in another four games after a two-year hiatus from the game.
5 An Off-Court Injury Plagued His Career
Fans of Bird may be aware of his various back issues, but most people won’t be aware that his career was likely ended by an injury he first suffered off the court. Back issues were a serious problem for Bird throughout his career, but it all started with a simple project.
Bird was being a good son and creating a gravel driveway for his mother, but he wound up hurting his back in the process. Many point to that moment as the beginning of the end for his overall back health, something that would continuously become an issue.
4 He Was The First Winner Of The 3-Point Contest
Most NBA fans probably can’t imagine a world without the 3-Point Contest, but it’s really only been around for a few decades. Bird wasn’t just the first winner of the incredible contest, he actually managed to win it three times in a row.
Bird actually still stands tied with Craig Hodges as the only men to win the event three years in a row, both doing so in consecutive years. Even someone like Steph Curry has not managed to accomplish a feat like that with only two wins in separate years.
3 He Had A Legendary Rivalry With Magic Johnson
As previously mentioned, the incredible rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson was something that created magical moments in basketball. While their rivalry led them to the highest viewed college basketball game, the rivalry didn’t stop there.
The pair had some of the most heated games in NBA history both in the regular season and the postseason. Both men were the leaders of championship-caliber teams often bringing them into contention, but the two have said that they have since become great friends off the court.
2 The Twitter Bird Is Named After Him
Something that is more of a general fact that most people don’t know is that the Twitter mascot, that little blue bird, was actually named for Larry Bird. The Twitter bird is named Larry, creating the obvious name Larry the Bird.
Larry Bird is said to not even have an actual account on the site despite having a mascot named in his honor. It’s just another testament to how legendary Bird managed to become in the minds of his many, many fans around the world.
1 He Coached the Pacers Better Than Anyone Expected
When some players’ careers come to an end, they just aren’t quite ready to step away from the court for good. Thankfully, in Bird’s case, he actually managed to coach the Pacers to moderate success when compared to how they were doing before he arrived.
He took over the coaching duties in 1997 and immediately helped take the team to their best franchise record in the NBA at that point. That’s an impressive feat for someone with no coaching experience, making it clear Bird simply had a mind for NBA basketball.