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That time Larry Bird ignored death threats he received during the 1984 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers -"Of course, I'm still out there. It's the Finals!"

Larry Bird received many death threats during his HOF career, and they never bothered him, even when it happened during the 1984 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers
Larry Bird

Larry Bird

When talking about some of the biggest winners and competitors in the history of the NBA, Larry Bird's name ranks pretty high in any of these lists. Bird had an incredible talent for talking a lot of trash to the opposing players and even fans sometimes and the ability to back up it up by actually doing what he said he would do. Throughout the 80s, he was the deadliest and most clutch player in the league, and if you weren't a Boston Celtics or Bird fan, you probably feared or even hated him.

Things were much different back in the day in the NBA, and players themselves had, in some way, more pressure to perform than they do nowadays. As Bird admitted once, receiving regular death threats was normal since his rookie year when it was none other than his former teammate Tiny Archibald who saved him from all the calls he received from hateful fans.

Death threats during the 1984 NBA Finals

However, things worsened throughout the years, culminating in the mid of the great rivalry against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals. Just after halftime, the Celtics' head coach K.C.Jones told Bird that the security informed him there were people in the building threatening to kill him and that even though it might not happen, he had the duty to tell him what was transpiring. Jones trusted Bird in every possible way and let Bird decide whether to leave the game or risk his life for a chance to win another NBA championship. The book "Bird Watching" by Jackie MacMullan details how the decision to leave the game or stay and help his team win was solely on Bird, and Jones was ready to accept whatever decision Bird made at the time.

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"The best threat I got was during the 1984 Finals in Los Angeles. We were warming up for the second half against the Lakers and my coach, K. C. Jones, called me over. He said, "Larry, I've just been told there's been a threat made on your life. You can handle this however you want"

Bird would've played no matter what happened

Soon after, Bird continued with the game, but Jones wanted to double-check if he felt comfortable on the floor because Jones knew he couldn't win this series without his best player. In this type of situation, some people would feel uncomfortable, which could affect their performance on the floor, but that wasn't the case with Bird. He was focused and wanted to beat the Lakers more than anyone on his squad because of all the implications that rivalry had on his legacy and the one of the Celtics.

"Larry, I see you're still out here." I said, "K. C., of course I'm still out there. It's the Finals! We're playing the Lakers!" K. C. said, "Great, great."

Luckily for the Celtics, Bird wasn't fazed by the death threats he received and put on an absolute show during that entire finals series. He averaged 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists over seven games in that finals series and, rightfully, won the MVP award and his second NBA championship. It was that Finals series against the Lakers in which Bird cemented himself as the best player in the NBA, with many fans giving him the edge over his fierce rival Magic Johnson.

There were numerous situations throughout his HOF career where Bird showcased he was one of the coldest guys in the history of the NBA. Either through making big-time plays, being a true leader, or leading by an example for the rest of his teammates, Bird epitomized what impact hard work and universal talent for basketball can make on your craft and personality. Being collected in pressure moments requires mental strength and composure that always separates the good from the greats, with Bird being the legend among the greats. 

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