The Celtics paid me to win basketball games….The one thing I can say of everything I’ve done is, I gave it my all. I paid the price with a lot of injuries I had but I laid it on the line every night. Practice, playing, and it made me better



Larry Bird developed into one of the best basketball players the NBA has ever seen, for whatever reason. Not the most athletically gifted player to ever step onto the court was the Boston Celtics legend. Although he was never the fastest or the highest jumper, Bird managed to win three MVP awards in a row in the middle of the 1980s.

Bird sat down to talk about their playing days with former Detroit Pistons champion Isiah Thomas and former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller during All-Star Weekend. “I brought it every night,” was how Bird succinctly and accurately summarised his career in five words during the conversation.

Many people believe that Bird is the greatest player in Celtics history. If not first, he trails only the great center Bill Russell in the rankings. Naturally, Russell’s resume is stronger because he won 11 championships with the league.

Bird was a better player overall, but Russell was a defensive-minded center who won five MVP awards. In the 1980s, Bird—possibly the greatest passing forward in league history—led the Celtics to three titles and five trips to the NBA Finals.

Bird was unique. He performed despite being hurt. Every night he played to win. His career may have been cut short by his extreme effort because he played through back pain, which ultimately forced him to retire.

“I knew full well that the Celtics were paying me to win basketball games. I felt like I had to win every time I went out there because it was my job to win basketball games and I wanted to please them. I can say with certainty that I gave everything I did my all. I suffered a great deal of injuries as a result of my constant sacrifice, but practicing and playing every night improved me. I was also up against the best players in the world. That is the main focus.


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