Recalling Larry Bird’s heyday: “Almost as good as…”

Recalling Larry Bird’s heyday: “Almost as good as…”

Never has a basketball player been quite like Larry Joe Bird of the Celtics, whose skill and perseverance wage a daily wire-to-wire struggle for supremacy. It is probably impossible to say that, in his seventh season, the 6’9″, 220-pound forward Bird—a forward better than Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—is the greatest player of all time due to the enormous importance of the giant pivotman in the game. Perhaps it isn’t, though.
Bob Cousy, who is currently a Celtics broadcaster, says, “I used to vacillate before Bird.” The query didn’t seem to be pertinent. However, Bird arrived with all the abilities and necessary skills for a basketball player. He is, in my opinion, the best. Don Nelson, the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, adds, “He’s the best player to play the game.” And now this important word from Westwood. John Wooden states, “I’ve always thought Oscar Robertson was the best player in the game.” “At this point, I’m not so certain Larry Bird isn’t.” Bird is regarded by Laker general manager Jerry West as “almost perfect as you can get in almost every phase of basketball,” despite West’s refusal to draw comparisons between players from different eras.

Based on his performance over the past few weeks, Bird is an athlete at the pinnacle of his game. Bird just clenched his jaw, leaned over, and took Kevin McHale’s weight onto his shoulders after McHale hurt his heel. In the eight games the Celtics have played since the All-Star break, Bird has averaged 30.8 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 7.8 assists. But those are just numbers, and numbers don’t always tell the whole story when comparing players from different eras of history. “The one thing you have to avoid when you talk about Bird is statistics,” claims Red Auerbach. “His presence on the court and his ability to command attention completely are what matter.” Actually, Bird makes room in his own hell for a fan

Given that the Celtics, who currently own the best record in the league at 43-11, have hardly missed a beat in McHale’s absence, Bird should be the front-runner for his third consecutive MVP award—an achievement shared by only Russell and Chamberlain in the NBA. I think Bird can count on Jack Ramsay to vote for him. Bird’s 47 points (including the game-winning basket in overtime) and 11 assists along with 14 rebounds and 11 assists on February 14 at Portland led the Trail Blazers coach, who was never one to sugarcoat things, to refer to him as “the greatest clutch player of all time.” After Bird destroyed Golden State with 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists five nights later, Warriors head coach John Bach quickly grabbed his dictionary. He declared, “Bird is a hermaphrodite.”

“There has never been a better all-around player,” Pacer coach George Irvine said after his team was defeated 30-11-12 by the Birds on Sunday night (his sixth triple double of the year). Bird’s veteran Artis Gilmore of San Antonio describes the phenomenon as “unique.”

 

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