Shawn Kemp confirms the wild and embarrassing Larry Bird story.

Larry Bird, a Boston Celtics great, was widely regarded as one of the most confident players in NBA history. He was also one of the most vocal trash talkers. Shawn Kemp, a former Seattle SuperSonics great, found out firsthand as a rookie. According to the report, Bird would inform certain defenders exactly what he was going to do in a game before doing it. Kemp, an athletic 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward/center, was one of those defenders. Some may assume that Bird’s trash-talking stories are typically overblown. Kemp, 35 years later, verified that was not the case.

Shawn Kemp admits that Larry Bird embarrassed him during his rookie season. Perhaps it was Kemp’s welcome to the NBA moment. On December 13, 1989, the Sonics traveled to Boston to play Bird and the Celtics. Boston’s championship dominance in the 1980s was ended. Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish were past their primes after winning three championships in a decade.

Despite back, elbow, and foot ailments, Bird remained motivated. He still had confidence. Kemp entered the NBA as a hyped rookie, having been taken with the 17th overall choice in the 1989 NBA Draft. Kemp, an athletically skilled player, went on to become a six-time NBA All-Star. Kemp was given time to adjust to life in the NBA. That changed in Boston when he was forced to guard Bird, even if only for a few minutes.

“We arrived in Boston that night, and (Xavier McDaniel) had some knee pain,” Kemp revealed during a 2024 visit on the “All the Smoke” podcast. “I was thinking, it’s not a good time for you to get knee discomfort. “I look in the mirror and think, yeah, I’m about to throw this (expletive) tantrum out here tonight. Before the game, I was rubbing my hands and looked at (Bird), as if I was going to get your ass, man.

“That morning, they published a USA Today piece stating that Larry no longer had it. So he appeared that night to make a statement. Before the game, he simply shook his head and said, ‘Man, it’s going to be a (expletive)-up night for you. Bird ended the night with a 40-point triple-double. He recorded 40 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds.

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