“Man, you need to retire”—Danny Ainge describes how Larry Bird’s disparaging remarks caused Julius Erving to become enraged.

After advising the 76ers star that he should retire because he couldn’t guard him, Bird gained Erving’s enmity.


In his heyday, legendary Boston Celtics star Larry Bird was subjected to some trash language, albeit not as harshly as other NBA players. But there was one notorious instance in 1984 with the legendary Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers.


The two teams’ relationship had simply gotten out of control at that point. On November 9, 1984, the rivalry between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics for control of the Eastern Conference came to a head.

By the third quarter, Bird had scored 42 points, demonstrating his excellent play at the time. Conversely, Julius Erving had a terrible night, scoring just six points. Things became really nasty when Bird elbowed Erving and was given an offensive foul. In the end, both would be removed from that match and fined $7,500 apiece.


Danny Ainge was among those present to see that Celtics-Sixers altercation. He talked about the regrettable event he remembered on the Knuckleheads podcast.

“Man, you need to retire,” said Bird to Erving as he was jogging back down the court. And that’s how the narrative began—it seemed like Dr. J went insane,” Ainge remarked.

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