Basketball is a very tough sport, and for someone who isn’t considered as athletic as the other players on this list, Larry Bird might be the most fundamental player on this list. How? Let’s get into it.
Larry Bird was from a small town in Indiana. He was highly recruited for his skill on the court and ultimately decided to stay close, going to Indiana Hoosiers and playing for Bob Knight. However, Bird dropped out after one month, returning to his town and attending a small community college there. After attending there for a year, Bird decided to attend Indiana State University, playing there for two years before getting drafted by the Celtics as the sixth overall pick of the 1978 draft. In a surprise twist, Bird elected to not play for the Celtics and attend another year at Indiana State. During that season, Bird led the team to an undefeated regular season and ultimately, a match-up against Michigan State and Magic Johnson. Magic’s Spartans came up with the win 75-64.
The following year, Bird entered the 1979-80 season with the Celtics. He made a significant impact, improving the team’s win total by 32 while averaging 21 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 47% from the field and 40% from the three. The Celtics made the playoffs that year with Bird leading the way. They Swept their way into the second round, beating out Houston with Bird averaging 20 points per game. The next series brought along the Philadelphia 76ers. Bird and the Celtics couldn’t outshine the 76ers, losing in 5 games to them.
Bird and the Celtics wouldn’t give up, and they would be back and ready for vengeance the following season. Bird and the Celtics would end up winning the championship that year, with Bird averaging 22 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2.3 steals per game during that playoff run. Larry Bird got his first ring.
Bird isn’t done there. He would win the regular season MVP in the 1983-84 season along with winning it the next year in the 1984-85 season. He would also win two more rings with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986, both times winning the Finals MVP.
I could go on and on about how many awards and accomplishments Bird has won in his lifetime, but I don’t want that to be the main focus on him or the other players on this list. I’m talking about pure skill, and Bird might be one of the most pristine skilled players in NBA history. I mean, I could go back through this list of old players and say some couldn’t fit in today’s game. For example, Bill Russell would have somewhat of a tough time in today’s era of basketball with the dependency on the pick-and-roll game, along with the three-point shooting. It would be hard for him, not saying he wouldn’t succeed. Bird, however, would still be as dominant, maybe even more, during today’s era. He was an amazing passer, with a very high IQ, along with the ability to shoot the ball from the midrange and behind the arc. He is someone I would trust in today’s era, and that says a lot because he played nearly 40 years ago. That is why I have Bird at 7 on my list.