Larry Bird shares how the three-point shot changed the NBA even though at first he didn't like that it was introduced to the game because he thought it was necessary.
Bird didn't like the three-point shot intially
The three-point shot is now a vital weapon for every team in the NBA and every player that wants to have solid minutes in the league needs to be an above-average shooter. We're living in the three-point era where teams are taking more threes than ever before in NBA history, and this change in the way basketball is being played nobody expected when the league introduced the shot back in 1979.
One of the first great three-point shooters that used the shot was none other than Larry Bird, who even admits that at first, he thought it was a bad idea by the NBA that didn't make much sense. In his autobiography 'Drive' Larry Bird talks about the adoption of the three-point shot to his arsenal, but why at first he didn't think it was a good decision by the NBA to have it in the first place.
"The first year I came into the NBA, the league instituted the three-point shot, but at first, it meant nothing to me. I never thought I'd be shooting one. The distance looked to be just too far out. I didn't even like the rule because I felt that a two-point lead at the end of the game should at least be enough to get you overtime unless a player fouls you in the act of shooting."
Benefits of the three-point shot
Bird was one of the first players that had a three-point shot in his repertoire of moves and were actually very efficient in making it on a nightly basis. However, it took him a couple of years to consistently shoot the three-pointers, but soon, he realized the tremendous benefits of being a great three-point shooter.
"I must admit that the three-pointer has been very good to me. I didn't really take that many three-point shots in the beginning. No one in the NBA knew exactly what to make of the strategy. I made the first one in the history of the All-Star Game, but it still took a few years before it began to play a large part in my overall game. It's still interesting to me what's happened with the three-pointer because I thought so little of the shot when I first came into the league. It's a great weapon, and I'll tell you when it is a particularly good time to use it. You're the road team, you've got maybe a five-point lead with a couple of minutes to go, and you're wide open. That's when I love to crank that thing up there because if you make it you simply destroy a team at that point. That's when you need your concentration."
When a team or a player is having a great shooting night, especially from the three-point land, it's almost impossible to win a game against them. That is something Bird figured out and since he was an ultimate competitor that wanted to win at all costs, expanding on his shooting was a logical move for him. Over the years, he grew accustomed to the three-point shot and used it regularly, making him one of the most unstoppable players to ever play in the NBA.
The evolution the three-point shoot brought to the NBA
"The three-point shot demoralizes an opponent; there is no question about that. You're working very hard on defense, and all of a sudden, there is a three-pointer, and you feel so deflated. If the deficit goes from two to five with a minute to go, you're dead in the water. It's really a killer."
For his entire career, Bird attempted only 2 three-pointers per game, even though in the second part of his career, he was averaging a bit over 3 attempts per game. His shooting percentage was around 38 percent which is not great, but it's not bad considering that he was one of the early adopters of the shot. Nowadays, superstar shooters like Steph Curry sometimes attempt more than 15 three-point shots per game which is the sheer evidence of how the league has changed in the last few decades.
Teams like Utah Jazz or the Golden State attempt over 40 three-pointers per game which is the highest in NBA history, and teams are now relying on that shot more than ever before. We've seen fans and some analysts complain about the amount of three-point shooting in the game right now, saying the post-game is gone, which in some way is true. The game no longer has the balance it used to have, with advanced analytics heavily favoring the three-point shot, and teams decided to go down that route and build their teams around players that can shoot. Whether we'll see another change in that trend remains to be seen, but the NBA has come a long way since introducing the shot back in 1979.