In an interview on the Arsenio Hall show back in 1990, Michael Jordan was the guest and talked about some things from his professional and personal life. He touched upon the topic of some of the dirtiest players in the NBA and said Bill Laimbeer and Larry Bird are the two names that come to his mind first. He also believes most of the NBA players back then would put their names if they were asked about the dirtiest players in the league.
“If you had 273 professional athletes, professional basketball players and you say who is the dirtiest player in the NBA. I say 95 percent will say it’s Laimbeer or Larry Bird.”Michael Jordan, via Arsenio Hall Show
Jordan also explained the difference between the two players and how Laimbeer uses all kinds of tricks and ways to stop an opposing player from scoring. Because of the lack of physical ability to stop players, Laimbeer used brute force that was often very dangerous because his primary intent was to injure players, which is entirely different than playing hard defense.
“Holding, pulling, hard fouls – Laimbeer is very dirty in terms of he doesn’t jump well, he can’t block a shot. If we were on the fast break, he is not going to block my shot. To see him coming at me full steam ahead, it’s only to knock me over, knock me out of balance. I already said he couldn’t block my shot. That is the type of thing he does, and people don’t appreciate it because we know he can’t block shots.”Michael Jordan, via Arsenio Hall Show
According to Jordan, Larry Bird uses dirty moves to get himself open, and he doesn’t resent him at all because he believes that is smart basketball. Jordan said Bird was aware of the lack of his physical abilities, so he used his high basketball IQ to have an advantage against the opposing players.
“Larry is good with playing you kind of slow, but all of a sudden, he will grab you by your pants, get open for a layup, or a three-point play. That is smart. It’s not really cheating, but it’s smart. He overcomes a lot of the things regarding natural ability that he doesn’t have. He is not the quickest guy, he can’t jump, but he overcomes it really well.”Michael Jordan, via Arsenio Hall Show