This past Wednesday was the 60th birthday of Larry Bird.
For those of you too young to have actually watched him play, trust me, he was a bad man. Not a
bad man for a white guy. A bad man, period!
I never agreed with the infamous Dennis Rodman statement.
He was not a basketball version of Adele.
Did he have more fans for being a stand out white guy in a “black man’s game”? Of course. But that
speaks to the popularity of white privilege in America. It is neither an indictment or validation of him
as a basketball player any more than Trump’s election is an indication of what kind of statesmen he
But in spite of being a life-long die-hard Laker fan, unlike a certain group of haters today, I have
enough emotional maturity to give credit where credit was due.
The Celtics win over a clearly superior Lakers team in 84 was among the most painful of my sports
life. It does not happen without Larry Bird.
That year would be his first of 3 straight MVP years. While I’ll go to my grave insisting that Bernard
King should have won the 1985 award, Bird’s place in the game was nevertheless secure.
More than a little can be learned about Bird’s mindset and mental toughness coming up when he
would go to Chicago playgrounds where he learned the “city game.” He always expressed
appreciation for being “allowed” to play with them.
Allowed is the right word.
If you know anything about the culture of inner-city basketball, be it in New York, Philly, DC, or Chicago, you know they do not let just anyone play on a regular basis. It’s a sports version of the Apollo and if you can’t cut it, no one is shy or sensitive about letting you know.
The Birdman could clearly cut it as the NBA would soon find out.
So here is an ode to one of the coldest assassin’s in sports history: Larry Joe Bird.