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“I’m pretty sure it’s not made in a defensive stance” — when Larry Bird took a swipe at Dominque Wilkins' defense

Only Bird would be so savage to throw a jab at someone on one of the greatest days in their life.
Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins

Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins

Though Dominique Wilkins is known for his powerful dunks, we’ve learned from the oldheads that he was a tremendous scorer. So it makes one wonder why Wilkins is one of those greats who never won an NBA championship. Larry Bird, who has three rings on his fingers and is one of the nastiest trash talkers ever, gave us a hint of why Nique failed to snag at least one championship.

Nique statue

In 2015, the Atlanta Hawks honored Dominique Wilkins with a bronze statue. Several guests were in the ceremony such as Hawks alumni and Wilkins’ colleagues like Karl Malone, Bernard King, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler.

For those who failed to attend, they sent out a video greeting to congratulate the Human Highlight Film. One of the legends who congratulated him was Boston Celtics icon Larry Bird. While he was happy for Wilkins’ milestone, Bird took a swipe at the Hawks forward’s weakness.

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Those are not the words to utter in one’s statue ceremony. But the organizers probably expected such scathingly hilarious remarks from someone like Bird.

A look at the numbers

Among the plethora of stats to gauge one’s defensive effort, let’s look at the Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Wilkins tallied a -1.1 DBPM. For comparison, Bird — a less athletic player who played the same position as Wilkins — had a 1.8 DBPM.

If you’re having difficulty visualizing how bad Wilkins was on defense, imagine Carmelo Anthony’s defense (or lack thereof). The man has a -1.2 DBPM. Like Melo, Wilkins was probably targeted by opposing teams more often than not.

Another stat that shows Wilkins’ weak defensive skills is the defensive rebounding numbers. Wilkins averaged 3.7 defensive rebounds per game, which is pretty low for a forward. Looking at Wilkins’ highlights, he was mostly inside the 3-point line. So it makes you wonder what was going through his head with the ball up in the air? Was he already thinking about what he’ll do on offense instead of boxing out?

Many believe that Wilkins’ weak defensive chops disqualified him from making the 50th Anniversary team. It’s a pity since Wilkins had the athletic prowess to become a stellar defender. All he had to do was give it some effort, in the same manner he put all of his energies into his windmill dunks.

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