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Larry Bird once challenged a reporter to a free throw shooting competition using just his left hand and won $160 off of him

Bird's confidence in his abilities helped him become an all-time great player in the NBA, and his trash-talking showed just how confident he was in himself.
Larry Bird once challenged a reporter to a free throw shooting competition using just his left hand and won $160 off of him

Bird would talk smack to everybody, not just NBA players.

Larry Bird is notorious for being one of the best trash-talkers in NBA history. Bird was among the best players in the league throughout the 1980s, and he saw many different defenders cross his path. Very few of them ever slowed him down, and he let them know it too.

Whether it was John Salley being told he had better ask for a double team by Bird when he was guarding him, or Clyde Drexler being told he’s a rookie and he doesn’t know anything about the NBA, Bird would sling his trash talk at anybody who he found himself up against on the court.

Bird’s trash talk wasn’t limited to just NBA players

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Bird would talk smack to everybody, not just NBA players. Pretty much anyone who questioned his abilities was asking for trouble, and Bird had some very unique ways of proving to others just how good at basketball he was. He once challenged a local Boston reporter to a free-throw shooting contest after he made a comment about an injury he had suffered to his hand and ended up challenging him to a free-throw shooting competition, which he obviously won:

“After injuring a finger in a bar fight during the 1985 conference finals against the Sixers, Bird was practicing with his fingers heavily taped. When Dan Shaughnessy asked doubtfully if he was going to play like that in the game, Bird informed the reporter that he could tape up his entire hand and still outshoot him. He then had the trainer tape his shooting hand into a fist and challenged Shaughnessy to a shooting competition: one hundred free throws at $5 a shot. The two took turns shooting in rounds of ten. Bird, resting the ball on the palm of his bound right fist and guiding it with his left hand, made eighty-six shots, and Shaughnessy owed him $160. After the reporter paid up the next day before the Sixers game, Bird, like a cruel older brother, placed the eight twenty-dollar bills in his sock and played the whole game with the money in his shoe.” - Jeffrey Lane, Under the Boards

Bird’s trash-talk is what helped him become one of the greats

Bird’s ability to turn even the slightest diss into a competition of sorts helped make him so great. “Larry Legend” was obviously full of confidence, and in a sport as reliant on confidence as basketball, it’s no surprise that Bird became as good as he was.

Of course, Bird would play through the 1985 Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers despite his injury, and Boston would win the series in five games. Bird had a pretty poor series, mainly because of his mangled right hand, but it didn’t matter. The Celtics would eventually lose in the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, but it was no fault of Bird’s.

Bird is one of the greatest trash-talkers in NBA history, whether it was hustling reporters or turning NBA stars into shells of themselves. He never backed down from anybody, and it helped contribute to the legacy of one of the greatest players in the league. If you ever run into Bird, don’t say anything that may tick him off because chances are, he’s going to make you pay for it. 

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