Larry Bird’s trash-talking was legendary, but that’s not the only tough thing about him. The guy’s mental capacity is made from steel, and no one could make him cower in fear. Not even a potentially career-ending injury and a bad fall.
Bad back, bad fall
Larry Bird retired at 35, but he knew his time was up a year earlier. Bird suffered a severe back injury, a compressed nerve in his back, nearly ending his career in the ‘90/’91 season. The only reason he kept going was his winning mentality.
In a pivotal playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, tied 2-2, and with Game 5 up for grabs on the Boston Celtics’ homecourt, Bird bucked the odds and helped his team win. He scored 30 points on 12-14 shooting. The way he played, you wouldn’t have guessed Larry Legend was hospitalized a few days before. The verdict for his bad back: surgery required.
Larry decided to continue playing and go under the knife in the offseason. What made his performance more Jesus-like was he also suffered a bad fall in the first quarter of the game. The sweet-shooting forward hit his head so hard that he had to go to the locker room for initial checkups.
“When I hit the floor, I thought I broke my jaw, because I couldn’t move my mouth. I was in a lot of pain, but I could hear the crowd out there and I thought, `I can’t leave those guys out there all by themselves.’”
Bird’s trash-talking was tough, but his mindset was tougher. If it were any other player, he would have preferred to sit this one out and try to preserve the body for next season. But Bird probably thought it was the end no matter what, so he willed his team to win and decided to hang it up the following year.
Legend of Larry Bird
You can’t question Bird’s commitment. In the current era where players hold their teams hostage by taking time off, using personal reasons or mental health as a shield, the Boston Celtics legend set the bar high when it comes to laying it all out on the floor.
The Hick from French Lick delivered, and his return was crucial in winning the game. In fact, Pacers coach Bob Hill predicted Larry’s scoring barrage in the second half. That goes on to say how rivals in the league respected what Bird brings to the table. No one counted him out despite having a bad back and a bad fall.