When LeBron James arrived as a 6-foot-9 point foward, Larry Bird thought a new era was coming. An era he was very familiar with, having clashed with another 6-foot-9 floor general in Magic Johnson back the in the day. But as it turned out, an array of small guys found a platform for their skills in the NBA, and Bird loves how they fearlessly compete with the bigs.
Larry likes the NBA’s evolution
Bird is one of those NBA legends who have been a fan of the modern-day NBA. And though he was a scoring forward during his stellar career, “Larry Legend” likes watching the “little guys” take over in today’s game.
“We’ve seen a lot in this NBA over the years, and a lot of good and it continues to get better,” Bird told Daily Hampshire Gazette in 2019. “My concern 15 years ago was everybody’s going to be 6-(foot)-9 like Magic Johnson at the point guard and the little guys are going to get squeezed out. Now it’s just the opposite. The big guys are getting squeezed out and the little guys are taking over.”
Bird also said that the three-point line has been essential today and he likes how teams heavily rely on it to win games.
“And the 3-point line has been there since 1980 and nobody utilized it until the last 15, 17 years,” he continued. “I can remember watching Kentucky play and Rick Pitino was shooting 3-pointers all the time and I go Jesus Christ, no way you can win like that. Now if you don’t do it, you’re not going to win.”
The 3-point shot is good for the game
It wasn’t the first time Bird shared his honest take on three-point shooting in the modern NBA. Despite being considered one of the best shooters in history, Bird once stressed that the emergence of the three-point line made way for the rise of exceptional players who weren’t blessed with that God-given athleticism.
“I remember when we played, we were worried the middle was so clogged because we really wanted to pound it down inside all the time,” Bird explained. “Since the three-point line is being taken advantage of, it opened the court up; there is more space out there. Some of the players that have a lot of skill you can see their skill on a nightly basis. We never really worked on it.”
Indeed, Bird was right about those two things. First, LeBron and Magic may be freaks of nature, but they didn’t completely start a norm in the NBA, where playmakers are as big as power forwards. On the other hand, teams have figured out how to maximize the three-point line and win games without being too physical - and the game is better for it.