Larry Bird is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history and a Boston Celtics legend. Even though he wasn't the fastest or the most athletic guy in the league, he made up for that with his impeccable skillset and high basketball IQ. He shares what made him stand out compared to other NBA players that were more gifted athletically.
The importance of fundamentals
Ever since he came to the NBA, Bird knew he would have to work extra hard and smart to compete with other players in the league, especially those who were more athletic than he was. In one of his earlier interviews, Larry said there is one straightforward rule he applied every day to be one of the best players in the NBA. The pure willingness to work hard and improve every single day is a must-have for him and one of the recipes behind his success and illustrious career.
You can have all the speed in the world, all the quickness, and be able to jump out of the gym, but I think the one thing you have to have is the desire to make yourself better every day. I wasn't able to run fast or jump high, so I had to come up with another gimmick to get me through. The ability to learn quickly, to go out and learn the fundamentals and try and protect the fundamentals, and trying to get around of not having quickness or the jumping ability
Even though many regular fans would immediately say Bird was an unathletic white guy that could shoot well is far from telling the whole story. Bird was deceptively athletic, and it seemed he was always at least one step ahead of his competition at all times. Ever since Bird came to the NBA, he knew he would have to work extra hard to have that edge over the other players, and this is the mindset he kept throughout his entire career.
I am a better athlete than people give me credit for. I am good at pretty much anything that I do. There is no question I have to work a little bit harder than someone with gifted ability. I always say if I miss a week of practice, my shot is going to be rusty, and I am going to be a little bit out of shape. I just have to work at my game, and I know what I need to do to get my game in order. If I can do those things, I can compete with anyone. If I can't do the things that I want to do, I suffer from it, while gifted athletes probably wouldn't suffer as much.
Anyone who believes there are unathletic players in the NBA is clueless; however, there are guys who are more athletic than the others. Bird was the best example of how being prepared and actually having a high basketball IQ can make up for being athletically 'inferior' to other players. He was incredibly versatile and could score, rebound, assist, and play decent defense when he wanted to. The NBA championships, MVP award, and all the accomplishments Bird achieved in his illustrious career are solid proof he approached and played the game in the right way.