After achieving his final desire and raising the 18th banner, Larry Bird sent Boston Celtic some heartfelt words, saying, “Despite my Old Age am f-king Pround i saw this and it wont.”

American former professional basketball player, coach, and National Basketball Association (NBA) executive Larry Joe Bird was born on December 7, 1956. Known by the nicknames “the Hick from French Lick” and “Larry Legend,” Bird is considered by many to be one of the all-time great basketball players. In the annals of the NBA, he is the only individual to have won Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, All-Star MVP, Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player.[1]

Born and raised in French Lick, Indiana, Bird excelled in basketball locally. After being heavily recruited, Bird signed on to play collegiate basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers under coach Bob Knight. However, after just one month, Bird left the team and went back to French Lick to attend a nearby college. He played three years with the Sycamores after attending Indiana State University the following year. After his sophomore year at Indiana State, Bird was chosen by the Boston Celtics as the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft. However, Bird decided to continue his education and returned for the 1978–79 campaign.

 

 

Subsequently, he guided his squad to an unbeaten regular season. The season culminated with a national championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State, which also featured a much awaited matchup between Bird and legendary Michigan State player Magic Johnson. This matchup marked the start of a long-lasting rivalry between the two that lasted for more than ten years. The victory ended the Sycamores’ perfect record against Michigan State.

When Bird joined the NBA for the 1979–80 campaign, he had an instant impact. Playing first at power forward, he helped the Celtics win 32 games more than the previous year before losing in the conference finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout his 13-year professional career, Bird was a member of the Boston Celtics, helping the team win three NBA titles and five trips to the NBA Finals. The duo of center Robert Parish and forward Kevin McHale, regarded by some as the best front court in NBA history, was Bird’s playing partners for the most of his career.

In addition to being the only forward in league history to win two NBA Finals MVP honors and the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three years in a row (1984–1986), Bird was a twelve-time NBA All-Star. Additionally, Bird played for the “Dream Team,” the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team that won a gold medal. In 1998, he was admitted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as an individual player, and in 2010, he was inducted once more as a member of the “Dream Team.” In 1996, the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list included Bird, and in 2021, the 75th Anniversary Team roster included him as well.[3]

One of the first players in the NBA to utilize the recently implemented three-point line, Bird was a versatile player who could play both inside and outside the forward position. In 2016, Fox Sports named him the best NBA small forward of all time.[4] From 1997 to 2000, Bird led the Indiana Pacers as head coach following his playing retirement. After leading the Pacers to a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals, he was voted NBA Coach of the Year for the 1997–98 campaign. Bird joined the Pacers in 2003 and served as their president of basketball operations until his retirement in 2012.[5]

For the 2012–13 NBA season, he was voted Executive of the Year. In 2013, Bird rejoined the Pacers as president of basketball operations, a position he held until 2017.[7] Bird stayed on as an advisor for the Pacers until July 2022, at which point, almost a year later, he rejoined the team as a consultant.[8]

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