The legendary 6-time NBA All-Star Shawn Kemp made a guest appearance on the ‘Knuckleheads’ podcast. The Supersonics legend talked about his NBA career and used the opportunity to share the story about the first player to outplay him in an NBA game. Kemp was still a teenager in his first season, struggling with minutes. Still, he had the opportunity to play in the starting five against the Boston Celtics and another NBA legend Larry Bird who was slowly exiting his prime years.
Kemp recalls it as one of the worst beatings he ever received in his basketball career, with Larry making absolutely every possible shot. On top of that, he was trash-talking him the entire game and took it very personally with Kemp because they were both from the state of Indiana. Kemp broke many of the high-school records Bird put up over a decade ago, so from the first minute, Kemp had a target on his back.
We were playing the Boston Celtics, so the great Larry Bird. I’m from Indiana, and Larry’s from Indiana. I knew about the history of Larry, but I didn’t realize how he really got down…. Larry gave me 50 in three quarters. And he talked to me the whole entire game. He asked me at the jump ball ‘You’re the one that broke all my records in high school right?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ and he said, ‘And you’re the one that used to dunk on my brother too right, Andy?’ and I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” and he said “I’ve got something for you tonight.Shawn Kemp, via ‘The Knuckleheads Podcast’
The craziest part that Kemp remembers is that Bird was so confident about his shots that game, he told Kemp what he was going to do before doing it. On a couple of instances when on defense, Bird would say what will happen next time he gets on offense, and he sure did deliver.
So every shot he was calling at the defensive end, he would tell me, when I got to the other end, I will pump fake you, get an AND-one on you, look at you and score it off the glass. That is how cold Larry Bird was.Shawn Kemp, via ‘The Knuckleheads Podcast’
If you look at the stats from that game, you would see Bird didn’t score 50, as Kemp recalls, but he did score 40 points to go alongside 11 rebounds and 10 assists, which is incredible in its own right. Countless stories prove Larry Legend was indeed one of the most remarkable and badass players in NBA history. He was incredibly confident with his skillset and truly believed there isn’t a single NBA player that could guard him.