Since Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic introduced himself to the league, his style of play has long been compared to NBA legend Larry Bird.
Both lack a specific type of athleticism compared to their nemesis, but they still find a way to be the best player on the court because of their playmaking skills, ability to score at ease, and high basketball IQ. (And there's also the white guy thing.) Over the past couple of seasons, Doncic has only been getting better as many believe that it's only a matter of when — not if — he nabs his first championship.
But as Doncic is still in the middle of becoming a complete player, former NBA player Byron Scott is pushing back on the comparison between him and Bird. Scott, who had the chance to play against the Boston Celtic, feels an apparent distinction between Larry's game that's not entirely evident in Luka's.
The difference in pace
In his latest podcast episode entitled The Byron Scott Podcast, the 3-time champion sat down with 7-time champion and former Los Angeles Laker Robert Horry to talk about today's NBA. According to Scott, the slow pace Doncic plays with makes Bird (who isn't exactly known for his speed on the court) look like a sprinter.
Robert Horry: "I look at guys in this era now and you say okay, you look at Bird and say, well, 'I could have stopped him because you know he's slow.' Someone like Luka now, you watch Luka, Luka is so freaking slow and you're like, 'Why can't they stop that?' But when you're crafty and you know how to play, that's all you need."
Byron Scott: "Yeah, I think Bird is fast compared to Luka. I see Luka, he's going slow as hell and he'll get by you. But Larry probably looked like a fuc***g sprinter compared to the way Luka plays."
Larry vs. Luka
While this isn't to say that Doncic shouldn't entirely be compared to Bird but it's pretty obvious that both aren't carbon copies of each other. After all, the reason why Luka is compared to Larry in the first place is that both players can do everything on the court (although Doncic's defense needs some fine-tuning) it's just the speed they approach the game with that's completely different.
Bird wasn't known as a fast player per se, but Scott's reiterated that Doncic's slow pace makes the former look as if he played with such a high speed. It's a compliment for both players but more so on Doncic, who Scott is amazed at how he can impact the game even if he doesn't play at high speed. (Or even medium speed if you ask Scott)
Only time will tell whether or not Doncic deserves to be in the same conversation as Bird. The 3-time All-Star is only 23 years old and has a long way to go to solidify his legacy. Doncic has been in the MVP conversations for the past two seasons and is the early favorite to win next season's MVP award.
Will Doncic be able to translate his potential to maybe 3 championships? Will he prove he's a superstar capable of winning a championship with one franchise just like Bird did? All these questions will need to be answered by Doncic if he wants to be compared (not just in terms of playstyle) and be as successful as Bird was.