NBA stars all have their little character, but some were still above the crowd at times. A Team USA icon has said in the past that she doesn’t like playing against white athletes! And yet he was one himself.
In many ways, Larry Bird is forever an orange ball legend. There is of course the sporting side, the Celtics winger having a huge record with three championship rings and as many regular season MVPs. But if No. 33 is still an endless source of fascinating anecdotes to this day, it is also because he was a verbal killer, clearly one of the greatest trash-talkers to ever tread a parquet floor across the Atlantic.
Indeed, the person concerned only very rarely kept his tongue in his pocket, never hesitating to gun down his vis-à-vis with a spicy comment at will. He also didn’t mind operating in this way on subjects that could be much more divisive, such as the opposition between Black and White players in the 80s. Magic Johnson’s great rival had thus explained during an interview withESPN that despite the fact that he was part of the second group, he did not like to compete with his other members:
Larry Bird didn’t want to be defended by white people
I think it’s good for the fanbase to have white people as stars because as we all know the majority of fans are white Americans. And if you just had a few white people, you could turn them on a little. But it’s a black man’s game, and it always will be. I mean, the greatest athletes in the world are African American.
The one thing that always bothered me when I was playing in the NBA was that I got really irritated when they put a white on me. I still don’t understand why. A white man would show up and I would always ask him, “What, you have a problem with your trainer? Did he do this to you? And he answered: “No”, and I said to him: “Come on, you’re a white man who comes here to defend me, you have no chance”.
For some reason, it always bothered me to play against a white man. When it came to the game, I didn’t care who was defending me – whether their skin color was red, yellow or even black. I just didn’t want a white guy standing up for me. Because I saw it as a lack of respect for my game.
For the trouble, the statement of Larry Legend is not insignificant. When he arrived in the league in 1979, the white community in the US saw him as their messiah, capable of breaking the hegemony of African-American athletes in basketball. Except that instead, the Bostonian prefers to play against them because they would be the best in this discipline. His numerous duels with Magic and the Lakers are the perfect example, the two co-captains of Team USA becoming friends over time.
Larry Bird was decidedly one of a kind, to the point of being finicky about which players were allowed to defend him. The worst part is that the white athletes must have suffered even more when they were on a mission on him…