(1) “Who’s guarding me, Chuck?”
Victim: Dennis Rodman
During his rookie season, Dennis Rodman, later to become one of the best defensive players of all time — had the assignment of guarding Larry Legend. Bird made four consecutive baskets and proceeded to tell Pistons coach Chuck Daly, “Who’s guarding me, Chuck? Is anyone guarding me? You better get someone on me or I’m gonna go for 60.” No matter how close up Rodman would get to Bird, trying to deny him the ball, Bird would playfully yell to teammates to hurry up and get him the ball “before they notice nobody is guarding me.”
(2) Larry Legend vs. Dallas Mavericks bench
Victim(s): Dallas Maverics bench
On one trip to Dallas, Larry told the Mavericks entire bench how he was going to get the ball on the next play and he would hit a 3. “So you got that?” Bird said. “I’m gonna stand right here. I’m not going to move. They’ll pass me the ball, and the next sound you hear will be the ball hitting the bottom of the net.” Bird then nailed the 3 and winked at the Mavs.
(3) “I just didn’t want a white guy guarding me.”
Victim(s): Ben Poquette + other white players
When it came to basketball, Larry Bird didn’t care about race. Okay, maybe a little, but this quote of Larry might surprise you. Larry was never really politically correct — “As far as playing, I didn’t care who guarded me. Red, yellow, black. I just didn’t want a white guy guarding me. Because it’s disrespect to my game”.
The reason he said it was because during a 1987 game against the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics legend made it clear how offended he was about having white players guard him when Ben Poquette stepped up to him. Initially, Bird laughed at then head coach Doug Collins before telling him, “Ben Poquette? Are you fucking kidding me?” Larry Legend went on to drop 41 points in that contest.
(4) Bird tells Reggie who’s the boss
Victim: Reggie Miller
Later in his career, Reggie Miller was known to be a superb trash-talker in his own right, which explains why he even had the balls to try to rattle Bird. During his rookie season, Miller was trying to get in Bird’s head at the free-throw line when Bird looked at him and said, “Rook, I am the best f—ing shooter in the league. In the league, understand? And you’re up here trying to f—ing tell me something?” Lesson learned.
(5) Larry tells McDaniel exactly what he’s going to do
Victim: Xavier McDaniel
Seattle’s Xavier McDaniel was once guarding Bird when Larry explained to him on the court, “I’m going to get the ball right here and I am going to shoot it right in your face.” Bird got the pass, found the spot he told McDaniel he would and then buried the shot. “I didn’t mean to leave two seconds on the clock,” Bird told McDaniel after the bucket.
(6) “You’re out of your league”
Victim: Mark Aguirre
According to Mark Aquirre, during one game against the Celtics he hit 3 on Bird and said, “Take a look at that”. The audacity! Bird responded by hitting three consecutive 3s and coldly saying to Aguirre, “You’re out of your league.”
(7) Bird was even ruthless to his teammates
Victim(s): Celtics Teammates
Bird didn’t save his biting commentary just for opponents. If he had a point to make to his teammates, well, they would receive it. Former teammate ML Carr once shared an example: “Larry said, ‘You guys want to win the game? Give me the ball and get out of the way.’”
(8) Bird knows where to find Craig Hodges
Victim: Craig Hodges
It was no surprise that Bird was dominant in the All Star Game 3-point shooting contest, winning the first three events beginning with the inaugural one in 1985-86. Before the event would even start he would ask the others participating who was competing for second place. When Craig Hodges won in ’89-90, with Bird not participating, he was asked whether his victory needed an asterisk because he didn’t go against Bird. “He knows where to find me,” Hodges said. The words were taken to Bird for a response, who said, “Yeah – at the end of the Bulls’ bench.” Damn.
(9) “I’m gonna play this one left handed”
Victim(s): Portland Trail Blazers
“At the end of one of the road trips,” Bill Walton said, “He had accomplished every goal, we hadn’t lost a game on the trip and Larry told all of us players and the media too, we were all standing around waiting to leave, he said, ‘Tomorrow night’s the last game of the trip, I’m going to play this one left-handed, at least through three quarters.’”
Bird didn’t play three quarters left-handed, but maybe he should have for the sake of the Trail Blazers, because the Celtics forward ended up with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bird also sent the game into overtime with a game-tying shot and then made the game-winning shot later on.
(10) “I’m the best damn player from Indiana”
Victim: Shawn Kemp
Xavier McDaniel once told this story: “I remember Shawn Kemp was guarding Larry Bird one night, and during the time out, Shawn shared Bird’s comment. On the last three-pointer, Larry Shot in Kemp’s face and he said, ‘I’m the best damn player from Indiana.’ We ended up hearing this story during the time out and started laughing. He was on fire that night; he ended up with 50-plus points.