During the 1980s, the rise of the NBA was at its peak. The likes of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were at the top of the league. Meanwhile, a young Michael Jordan was making a name for himself.
As we mentioned, during that era Larry Bird was regarded as arguably the best player in the league. The Boston Celtics legend was truly a superstar and dominated the league for years.
In his efforts, he also won numerous accolades, including three consecutive regular-season MVPs. It takes a lot to win the MVP award in the best basketball league. While most fans and players might praise Bird for this feat, Dennis Rodman was not among them. In fact, Rodman firmly believed that Bird wasn't the best player in the league.
According to an article originally published in 1987 by the New York Times, Rodman and even Isiah Thomas spoke about why Bird had his MVP awards.
Dennis Rodman "He’s not God. He ain’t the best player in the NBA, not to me… He’s white. That’s the reason he gets it the MVP award. Nobody gives Magic Johnson credit. He deserved it last year, too. I don’t care. Go ahead and tell him. You’ll put it in the paper anyway."
Isiah Thomas: "I think Larry is a very, very good basketball player. He’s an exceptional talent. But I have to agree with Rodman. If he were black, he’d be just another good guy."
Both former Detroit Pistons superstars believed that if Bird wasn't white, he would be regarded as a good player, but wouldn't have become the best player in the league.
It's hard to agree with this take to be honest. Bird was a sensational player and many players have spoken in favor of him.
So, flat out disregarding his accomplishments seems a tad bit too extreme. Apart from winning three regular-season MVPs, he also won three NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, was a 12x NBA All-Star, and had many more accolades on his resume.
As a result, Bird was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. To this day, he is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA and will be regarded as that in the future as well.