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Isiah Thomas Once Thanked Larry Bird For Saving His Career After Getting Backlash For Saying That Bird Won His MVPs Because He Was White

Larry Isiah (1)

Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas were rivals on the basketball court. Bird is higher on the all-time list than Isiah and even during his time was the bigger star, but IT and his 'Bad Boy' Pistons teams were the ones that broke the dominance of Bird's Celtics teams in the Eastern Conference in the late 80s. And at the time, there wasn't a lot of love lost between the two superstars. 

Larry Bird was the undisputed king of the Eastern Conference in his prime. The man won 3 consecutive MVPs too, and the ECF MVP trophy is now named after him. But some people questioned his abilities, as there are people who question today's superstars and one of them was Isiah Thomas. Thomas commented on Bird winning his MVPs just because he was white, and that led to a fair bit of backlash. 

But the situation was resolved in a press conference where Larry Legend himself defended Isiah, and it was chronicled in an article by the Boston Globe, with IT then going on to thank Larry for 'saving his career':

Isiah Thomas: "My mistake was in joking in a manner that could be misinterpreted. I've been disappointed, hurt by this. All of America thinks Isiah Thomas is a racist, a bad guy. And anybody who knows me knows that I'm not."

Larry Bird: “I don’t think Isiah’s stupid. He knows I’m a baaaad player. I'm proud of being a professional basketball player. For a guy who's too slow and can't jump, I think I've done pretty well."

Isiah Thomas: "If he says nothing, I'm crucified, I die. The people who voted me the Walter Kennedy Trophy this year (for charitable contributions) would have wanted to lynch me. I think Larry Bird might have saved my career today."

The topic of race has always been a contentious issue, and a similar example is what happened between Luka Doncic and Montrezl Harrell in the 2020 playoffs. However, Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas showed at the time how these things can be handled amicably between players, and it's an iconic moment to look back on, knowing both players retired as two of the greatest to ever do it.