Larry Bird prophesied Michael Jordan will become the future of the NBA during his rookie year: “Pretty soon, this place will be packed every night, not just when the Celtics come to town”

The Bulls won 11 more games and advanced to the playoffs during Michael Jordan’s first season.

One season before Larry Bird famously compared Michael Jordan to God, the Boston Celtics legend anticipated what was to come. MJ was the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, but even before his rookie season was done, he was doing things that his teammates couldn’t help but notice and praise. Larry Legend had a keen eye for talent, and when the Celtics upset the Chicago Bulls 110-106 on February 5, 1985, he believed the future had arrived.

“I’ve never seen one player turn a team around like that,” Bird remarked in the postgame interview. “He has helped the entire Bulls team improve. Orlando Woolridge will likely be an All-Star for the rest of his career. And soon, this venue will be filled every night, not just when the Celtics are in town. They will pay only to watch Jordan. I’ve got to. Bird proclaimed rookie Michael Jordan the best ever. The Bulls went 27-55 in 1983-84 and finished 20-28 after 48 games. Chicago finished Michael’s debut season with 38 wins, 11 more than the previous year, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Jordan was expected to perform well, but he exceeded expectations. By December 1984, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the headline ‘A Star is Born.’ As a rookie, he was voted an All-Star starter due to his popularity among fans. “Best,” Larry replied. “I’ve never seen somebody like him. Unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. Phenomenal. One of a kind. That is exactly what I mean about the league. With guys like him coming in from college year after year, we can’t help but improve our image, attendance, and TV ratings. “He’s the best ever.”

Better than Larry as a rookie. Bird nearly had a triple-double in that win over the Bulls, with 27 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and three blocked shots. But he was enthralled by the UNC product, who scored 41 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and threw out seven assists while also stealing four and blocking one.

“At this stage in his career, he’s doing more than I ever did,” Larry Legend said. “I could not do what he accomplished as a rookie. Heck, there was only one drive tonight. He had the ball in his right hand, then lowered it, then raised it again. I got my hand on it and fouled him, but he still scored. And all the while, he is in the air. You have to play the game to understand how challenging it is. You see that and think, “Well, what the heck can you do?”

The Bulls made the playoffs that season, but lost 1-3 to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Meanwhile, the Showtime Lakers defeated the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Larry won his second MVP award that year, while Jordan was voted Rookie of the Year. As the C’s legend anticipated, MJ quickly dominated the league and became its biggest star.

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