There are a plethora of stories that all point to one thing — Larry Bird was a trash-talking genius. But none of them was as cold-blooded as the one when the Boston Celtics faced the Indiana Pacers back in ’90.
It was the day after Christmas, and from the beginning of the game, the Pacers’ forward Chuck Person wasted no time talking trash to the Celtics legend. Bird being Bird, he wasted no time talking back. Their war of words started even before the tip-off when Person, who was also known under the nickname “The Rifleman” said he was going on a hunting trip that night against Boston. This was the turning point that resulted in Bird doing what he does best: dismantling players trying to get in his head.
Person went by the nickname ‘Rifleman and said he was ‘going bird hunting‘ when Indiana faced Boston on Christmas Day. So before the game, Bird said he had a present for Person. After releasing a 3-pointer in front of Person on Indiana’s bench, Bird turned and wished him a ‘merry f—ing Christmas.’ The shot then went in.
But that wasn’t the only Christmas gift Bird handed to Person that night. He also led the Boston Celtics to a 152-132 win over the Pacers, while completely outplaying The Rifleman. Bird put up an incredible all-around performance, scoring 22 points, dishing out 12 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds, shooting 8-for-16 from the floor, 2-for-4 from behind the line, and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Person, who was known as a great athlete and a solid defender, finished the game with 10 points in 17 minutes of action and was completely outmatched by an All-Time great wearing the Celtics uniform. None of the birds were hunted that night. In fact, the hunter became the hunted, just as did everyone else who tried to talk trash to Larry Legend.
But none of them got the cold-blooded treatment like Person did that night. And it didn’t end there. Their rivalry continued for the next couple of seasons, and it was evident they both disliked each other. But rest assured, the Bird was never hunted.