It is difficult to find an NBA player that did not get some harsh words from Larry Bird in the 1980s. The Boston Celtics legend was an elite scorer but was also famous for his trash talking.
There are several scenarios we can point to involving several players. He once attacked Craig Hodges after the latter won a three-point contest he missed and said, "he knows where to find me." He once disrespected the entire Portland Trail Blazers team, playing the entire game with his left hand because he was "saving his right for the Lakers." In that game, he finished with 47 points, with 10 of his 21 shots being with his left hand.
While it was believed that every player got a piece of Bird's trash-talking, the Hall of Famer has revealed that one player was exempt from it.
The Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving was the 'lucky' player that was never on the receiving end of Bird's trash talking. While their fight on the court will be on the minds of many, Bird revealed that he had a lot of respect for Dr. J's game.
Via "Drive: The Story of My Life":
“My personal rivalry with Julius Erving was growing. It’s still the most exciting confrontation I’ve ever had at the forward spot. In my first couple of years, Dr. J was at his peak, and I was just starting to come on. It was a battle every single time. The most important I had to do while guarding Dr.J was to get help. When he started going along that baseline, you knew what was on his mind. He wanted to dunk. Once he got a step on you, there was nothing you could do. Any daylight at all, and Dr.J would jam it through.”
In his autobiography, he explained that he never trash-talked Erving even though many people thought otherwise.
“Some people said, ‘You should just give him the outside shot”. Well, when the good doctor was on the left side he had a very good bank shot, and I was scared to death of that, so that wasn’t necessarily the answer either. Julius Erving also was a much better defensive player than most people gave him credit for. We never spoke on the court. It was said I yelled things at him one night, but that was M.L. talking trash from the bench, not me. Believe me; I never said a word to Dr. J on the court.”
It was an interesting rivalry to watch while it lasted. They were two of the most skilled scorers of their era, and it was great watching them go at each other on the court.