Is Larry Bird’s ranking as the second-greatest basketball player of all time too high?

The truly clutch players are few and far between. Jerry West was referred to as “Mr. Clutch,” James Worthy as “Big Game James,” Robert Horry as “Big Shot Rob,” and Michael Jordan’s clutch jumper that won him the NCAA championship launched his career. The reason Larry Bird is regarded as the “Larry Legend” is that he was the only player who was so clutch that he was comfortable enough to trash-talk, or call his shots in great detail, before he made them—especially game-winning shots. Other players only trash-talked after they made a huge play. Of all the players, Bird has the most trash-talking anecdotes.

The shocking part is that, as fans, not one of us was aware that this was taking place. However, it’s all becoming clear as former players share their best trash talk memories, and they all center around Larry Bird. Bird’s varied arsenal is what made him such a clutch shooter—confidence alone is insufficient. He could shoot with either hand, step-back jumper, midrange fadeaway, post you up, or let go of a 35-foot bomb.

Notably, Bird received MVP votes in the top two spots every year from 1981 to 1988, with the exception of one year. (In 1989, he was sidelined by a back injury.) He placed second, second, second, first, first, first, third (behind Magic and Jordan in 87), and second (ahead of Jordan in 88). In just his second season in the league, this streak got started. Bird was named Rookie of the Year in his rookie campaign, and the Celtics—who kept the other four starters—went from having the second-worst record in the league with 29 victories to having the most with 61 wins. They went on to win 62 games the next year after adding Parish and McHale. He is honored in the name of the Twitter Bird logo.

To win the All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest, which he had prophesied he would win, he needed this last shot. This photo shows how many 3-point shooting contests Curry has been unsuccessful in. Because Larry doesn’t have one, I was also going to publish one for him.

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