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Larry Bird Was Once So Frustrated At Having To Spend All Day At An Airport, He Used It As Motivation To Destroy The Nets: "Don't Take This Butt Whooping Personally, I've Been Eating Hot Dogs All Day."

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Few have been known for their ability to trash talk as much as Larry Bird in the history of basketball. Larry Legend could destroy opponents on the court with his unreal ability, but he also did it with his supreme confidence and sharp tongue. The mental aspects of the game are an important factor, and only a handful of players are as good at demoralizing their opponents as Bird. 

Some of the greatest defenders in history have spoken about Bird's abilities in this regard, including Gary Payton. And it was a mentality thing; it came from a place of knowing he was better than a lot of the players he was going up against. Kevin McHale once shared a story that showcased Bird's mindset, explaining how some pre-game difficulties immediately led Larry to turn around and dominate the Nets. 

"I think the story that sums up Larry the best was back when we flew commercial, we didn't fly private. We played a Tuesday night game in Cleveland. And of course, the next day we had the first flight out because we had a Wednesday night game in New Jersey. Snowstorm hits Cleveland, we're at the airport at 7 in the morning, flight's canceled at 8, it's cancelled at 9, canceled at 10, canceled at 11, 12. We finally leave about 1:30 or 2 and the storm is kind of moving to Jersey. 

"And the bus driver says I can't get to the hotel and the arena, I can only go one place. Well, we had a game that night so we had to go to the arena. When we get to the arena, we're dragging. We're sitting in the locker room and everybody's kinda... We're tired and all of a sudden Coach gives a bit of speech like, 'Come on, guys, we're playing basketball, let's get ready to go.

"Larry stands up, and Larry says a couple other few choice words, and then he says, 'I don't know about you guys, but I'm gonna take it out on their rear-ends.' So I was like, 'Ooo, alright, let's go!' So we go on the floor, and Albert King is sitting there. Larry walks up to Albert King and he goes, 'Don't take this butt-whooping personally, I've been eating hot dogs all day.'

"And Albert King looks at him like, 'You've been eating hot dogs all day? What's that got to do with me?' And I mean, we went our and just hammered them. I mean, we terrorized them. And that was Larry, there were no excuses, he just played."

The story showcases the elite mentality required to become one of the greatest players ever to play the game. The ability to overcome any obstacles and use them as motivation to take yourself to the next level is extremely underrated. Young players that are trying to learn from the best to ever do it would do well if they could incorporate this mentality into their approach to basketball.