1981 NBA Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell had an interesting relationship with former teammate Larry Bird, even beefing with the small forward before and after he left the Boston Celtics in the middle of the 80s.
Maxwell and Bird had created a solid duo for the C's, winning a championship together in 1984. Nevertheless, as great things look on the court, they weren't on the best terms off the hardwoods.
Ahead of the 1984/85 season, Maxwell signed a new deal with the team, but he couldn't stay in Boston for the remainder of his contract. A knee injury prevented Cedric to keep performing at the best level, getting traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1985 in exchange for Bill Walton.
Larry Bird didn't appreciate the way Maxwell handled his injury, taking a jab at his former teammate in his book, “When The Game Was Ours.”
“He got his money and quit,” Larry Bird wrote in the piece, co-authored by Magic Johnson.
Talking with Heavy, Maxwell told his side of his story, explaining how he realized he was hurt, but it was too late for him to rest and heal.
“We had just won the championship and then I was starting to feel a pain in my knee almost before the season, really, in ’84 and I didn’t really think of it no more than regular aches and pain,” Maxwell said. “The one day I thought it was really different was the night I was in bed. I was asleep, and all of a sudden I turn and I heard somebody scream, like in pain and I was like ‘who was that?’ Then, I realized it was me.”
“I think the big thing was the doctors didn’t know I was hurt because my knee wasn’t swelling up because I didn’t swell,” Maxwell added. “So, therefore he was like, “maybe it’s just in your mind” and I knew it wasn’t but it was just hard to get guys to believe me. That was frustrating.”
Maxwell also talked about his approach to the injury, which seemed like he didn't care and earned him Larry Bird's criticism for apparently giving up.
“I think that’s just how it came across,” Maxwell said. “It was just translation, which came across as the way I was acting it seemed like I didn’t (care), and I fault myself for that. But, I can’t fault what my personality is.”
Fortunately, they made amends last year, with Maxwell admitting Bird was the greatest player he played with, paying his due respect to No. 33.
“Bird was the greatest player I ever played with. He and I were one of the best forward combinations in the NBA,” Maxwell wrote in his new book. “We weren’t the best of friends, but we were basketball friends; that’s the best way I can put it. We loved the game, and our competitive juices made each other better.”
As we all know, Bird was a tremendous trash talker. He didn't hesitate to call out people, even if he had to get on teammates. Maxwell learned that the hard way, but it's good to see they are cool now and ready to have a better relationship.