LARRY BIRD ON THE BS REPORT with BILL SIMMONS
I can’t imagine what it’s like to talk to your favorite basketball player ever. When I read Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy of Grantland.com, got the chance to sit down with Larry Bird, I found myself excited for him. If you haven’t already, just click the link above and listen to 40 minutes from one of the greatest basketball players that’s ever walked the Earth. It’s an amazing conversation, highlight by Larry and Bill discussing the ‘80’s:
SIMMONS: I still think that ‘86 team was the best of all those mid-‘80’s teams.
BIRD: There’s no question.
Further proving that old, competitive habits die much harder than regular old, bad habits, Larry continued:
BIRD: In ‘87, Earvin (Magic) always tells me that’s their best team. Well, we had a lot of injuries that year. I would like to play them, heads up, with Walton and team we had in ‘86, ‘cause ‘86 was definitely our best team.
Now THAT would be fun.
When you hear the greats talk, I always want to hear something that, heretofore, I hadn’t known. The Legend doesn’t disappoint. Simmons asked Bird about his ability to watch old games, and remember them, play by play.
SIMMONS: Is it true that you can see, like if we had a game on right now, from like some game in the ‘80’s, you would know what play it was?
BIRD: I’m not as good, I don’t watch it that much, but I know ten years ago, you could start watching and I could tell you what’s going to happen.
SIMMONS: Play by play by play?
BIRD: I might miss one or two here or there, but I’d catch up with it.
Unbelievable. New life goal: watch Magic’s Junior Skyhook game with Larry Bird. Scratch that. Watch any game with Larry Bird. Ah, screw it, back to the trash talk:
BIRD: I was with somebody the other day, and they had a game on. I was looking at it, and I said, “I barely remember that one.”
SIMMONS: Oh really?
BIRD: It was against the Pistons. Usually the Piston, I don’t pay no attention to ‘em.
I’ve read before Larry Bird has taken a liking to Kobe Bryant, and that makes perfect sense. Both were preternaturally gifted, and neither was ever very social. Bird touched on Bryant’s longevity:
BIRD: You know, the one thing people don’t understand is, if you look at our teams, four years in a row we went to the Finals. And Playoff basketball’s completely different. I played two years of Playoff basketball, but our bodies don’t have time to recover when we had injuries.
So when you go two and a half months, and you start again, you feel better, but you’re not recovered health-wise. And that just kept adding on, adding on, adding on.
Kobe’s one of the toughest human beings I’ve ever seen, because I know what he’s been through, and he’s played a hell of a lot more minutes than me. And he just finally figured out, “Hey, I’m going to get hurt. I just got to play through it.” That’s the mentality of a great player.
So is Kobe still better than LeBron James?
BIRD: Kobe’s always been my favorite, since I got out…
SIMMONS: ...I don’t like that by the way…
BIRD: But LeBron James is, by far, our best player in this league.
The pair continued, discussing the erosion of team basketball, and our culture’s current YouTube obsession with the dunk:
BIRD: Even Charles (Barkley), they’re always talking about dunking. Charles was a dunker, but he’s more of a passer, a power player. But everybody gets caught up in these dunks. I mean if somebody dunked on ya, and you come down and hit a three, who’s ahead? You know, I never did get that.
It more than worth your time. Click here, and listen to Bird wax about Ricky Rubio, Bill Laimbeer, Ralph Sampson, and others.