Larry Bird is one of the NBA's biggest legends. Bird was a player that was way ahead of his time. While the NBA was more concerned with power and physicality at the time, Bird was able to find great success because of his skills, and his ability to shoot the ball. Bird was one of the first transcendent superstars in the NBA.
There have been many legendary stories shared about Larry Bird. But perhaps former legendary collegiate basketball head coach Nolan Richardson's story about Larry Bird from his Hall Of Fame speech. Richardson spoke about turning on the radio to listen to a game between Indiana State and New Mexico State.
Richardson kept hearing the name Bird being touted by the commentators, as he completely took over the game and brought the fight to New Mexico State. Richardson was truly taken aback. And the next day, when Richardson saw the newspaper, he was shocked to see Bird's picture and realized how good he was.
“It was New Mexico State playing Indiana State. I don’t really care about the game, but New Mexico State is right up the street from El Paso and I went to UTEP. We were big rivals and I was hoping Indiana State would beat New Mexico. I have no clue of the players on either team. All of a sudden, this name keeps coming. ‘Bird, he goes to the right. Bird, he makes the slap.’ I said, ‘who’s Bird?’ It’s Bird this and ‘did you see the Pass Bird just made?’ I can’t see it, but I’m just trying to imagine it. By the time I came to the end, I said, ‘boy, that brother can play.’ Let me tell you something. When I got the newspaper the next morning and saw Larry’s picture… I said, ‘damn.'”
While this story is one of the best we've heard about Larry Bird, it is far from the only legendary Larry Bird story. He once scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks, converting their team's bench into his personal cheerleaders with the way he played. Bird is, without a shadow of a doubt, a legend of the game, and one of the 15 best NBA players of all time.
So much so, that Michael Jordan, considered by many as the best ever, doesn't put himself above Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, only going as far as to say that the two were equals. Bird is one of the best to ever play the game, and he was destined to be a superstar even during his days at Indiana State.