Larry Bird is one of the best trash-talkers in NBA history. Bird was as focused on dominating his opponents mentally as he was on the court. While Bird's talent and play were enough to unnerve his opponents, he would add fuel to the fire by aggravating his opponents by talking trash to them.
Larry used his words to get under the skin of his opponents, which would then throw them off their game and detrimentally affect their performances. But when opponents tried to do the same to Larry Legend, they wouldn't succeed as he would come back with even more scathing trash-talk in response to his rivals.
One player who got to experience Larry's prowess when it came to talking trash was none other than Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins spoke about his first encounter with Larry and the Celtics as a rookie.
Bird apparently ignored Wilkins' approach for a handshake before the game. And as the game began, Larry began his offensive onslaught on Wilkins, telling him he doesn't belong on the league.
Larry then told Wilkins that he liked him, but he was going to score 40 points on him. Bird came extremely close, falling 1 point shy and scoring 39 points against Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks.
“Larry was an unbelievable competitor. The first time I played him in the Boston Garden, I go to shake his hand, and he puts his hands behind his back. I’m like, ‘Oh, OK?'... The first play of the game, he says, ‘You don’t even belong in this league,’ and he hits a three. He did it again on the second time down. “I jump and he jumps. I got him, and I dunked it on him. I’m talking at him. I’m talking crap. He said, ‘I like you, you’ve got heart.’ Except he didn’t say heart. [Then he said], ‘I’m still getting 40 on you tonight’.”
His ability to talk trash to his opponents only accentuated Larry's game, as he seemed to feed off of their reaction about what he had to say. As good as Bird was, his game would get even better after he saw how his trash talk was affecting his opponents.
Larry without his gift of gab was an incredible offensive player, and one of the greatest of all time. But his trash-talking helped him get even better on each and every occasion, allowing him to become one of the best to ever play the game on both a physical and mental level.