When asked who'd he start a franchise with, Reggie Miller had a tough time choosing between LeBron James and Larry Bird. But if he would pick one in a hypothetical draft, the sharpshooter went with the Boston Celtics legend.The main reason? Modern NBA rules.
“In today's rules, you can't touch him!”
Miller may have some biases to his former Pacers coach, who he shared some funny anecdotes with back in the day, but he does have a point. In a throwback interview on The Dan Patrick Show back in 2015, Reggie was asked who he would pick in a hypothetical draft: a 30-year-old Larry Bird or a 30-year-old LeBron James. Miller picked Bird and revealed his answer.
"I gotta go with Larry Joe. In today's rules, you can't touch him!"
Reggie Miller, ">The Dan Patrick Show
In the interview, both players’ stats at 30 years old were also discussed. In the '85/'86 season, Bird averaged 28.1 points, 7.6 assists, 9.2 rebounds, 2 steals, and one block on 52.5% shooting. Meanwhile, James recorded 25.3 points, 7.4 assists, and 6 rebounds on 48.8% shooting in the '14/'15 season.
Stats-wise, Larry Joe was better, and the Pacers legend chose him not only because of the numbers but because he thought the rules today would benefit Bird more. Bird was 6’9” but had a shooting guard's handles, shooting, and agility. His ability to post-up and shoot anywhere on the floor would give any current defender nightmares.
Larry’s combination of skills, court-smarts, and clutch genes made up for his lack of athleticism. And while James is more powerful and suited for bullish attacks to the basket, Bird would find his way to score or make his impact felt on the floor. When it comes to game-winning moments, a sports website listed Bird ahead of James and only behind Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Who is better to start a franchise with?
In a hypothetical situation, it’s close between who is a better player to build a franchise with. Both stars thrived with superb teammates; only Bird had the benefit of having a good system in place throughout his career, while James had to undergo several systems and coaching changes in his career.
LeBron’s feat of eight consecutive Finals appearances is not easy to achieve. The Los Angeles Lakers star might have a slight advantage over Bird in terms of durability and longevity. However, if Luka Dončić thrives in the current era, it’s not that hard to imagine Bird could also do the same, even better. Dončić’s game had been claimed by experts like the one closest to how Bird played in his era.
At the end of the day, whoever you pick there's a whole lot of wins and jewelry coming your way.