“If you set a screen on me again like that, Imma knock your head off your shoulders” – Brian Shaw remembers that Larry Bird’s trash-talking almost cost him a punch from Karl Malone.

Shaw soon discovered what it was like to play for the Celtics and with Bird.

In complete contrast to its current status, the NBA was very different in the 1980s and 1990s. The game featured a lot more physical play, and players regularly utilized trash talk to get under their opponents’ skin.


All of this happened in a single episode early in Boston Celtics player Brian Shaw’s career. Shaw nearly faced Karl Malone’s wrath when playing with players like Larry Bird and Kevin McHale because of how enraged Bird and company were making him..


B-Shaw reflects on this humorous moment between Bird and Malone.

Shaw played with Larry for the first few years of his career with the Celtics, and it was anticipated that he would be a part of the team that would contend for titles in the future. But as soon as Brian started playing with Bird, he became a target himself.


Malone was understandably enraged when Larry scorched him during a Utah Jazz game. The fact that Brian was screening Shaw on a play that Bird was using to earn easy points for the C’s almost caused Karl to lose his cool and turn on Shaw.


On Podcast P, Brian recalled, “I remember going across, setting a screen on Karl the first time, Larry came off, caught it, and scored.” Wave Sports + Entertainment is presenting. Karl Malone yelled, “Young fella, if you set a screen on me again like that, Imma knock your head off your shoulders,” as we were sprinting back down the court. I keep thinking to myself, “Damn, is he really going to do this s***?” as I sprint down the floor. And since we just scored on them, I know we are going to run the play again.

“After hitting Reggie (Lewis) once more, I cross the lane to set the pick. Larry cuts me off, and I see Karl rear his forearm back. As I stand there, I think to myself, ‘Is this motherf***er really going to try to do it?'” He made it through, and I leaped aside just in time.Shaw recalled, “He was going to get even with me because Bird was talking shit and busting his ass.”

Shaw avoided a confrontation with Malone Bird. It’s common knowledge that Bird likes to make fun of his opponents, but this may be the only time he’s done so to the point where he almost hurt a teammate. Malone was frustrated, but he was unable to vent his resentment on Larry.



In order to free up Bird, he found the next best thing in Shaw, who was placing hard screens on him. Karl objected to the play and made it clear to Brian that he would pay a heavy price if he continued to screen him in this manner.


As expected, Malone raised his forearm to strike Shaw, but Shaw sprang clear of the way just in time. Karl played with such strength throughout his career that it’s easy to say this hit would have had an impact on Brian.

Although B-Shaw was not around for the Celtics’ 1980s championship highs with Bird, he was present for an incredible trash-talking tale. And he prevented Malone from hitting his head with a blow to the head. It appears to be a win-win situation for the former Boston guard overall.

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