Upon instructing youngster Shawn Kemp, Larry Bird said, “I took a picture of him and put it in my bathroom.”

Unexperienced Shawn Kemp may have been prepared for the physicality of the NBA. But not for Larry Bird’s insulting speech.

Shawn Kemp was prepared for the physicality and athleticism of the NBA entering the league. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old occasionally “got schooled.” On December 13, 1989, Kemp was excited to play Larry Bird, the best player in Indiana basketball history, at the storied Boston Garden. He was aware that the star player for the Boston Celtics would disparage him and his group.

Bird’s divisive remarks

Kemp stated via Basketball Time Machine, “Here you have this young kid coming out, trying to be the next big thing out of Indiana, and he (Bird) did exactly what he was supposed to do.” “He talked me into oblivion. Before the game even started, he informed me exactly what he was going to do to me. Subsequently, we ventured outside, and he fulfilled his promise to me without fail. A genuine overview of the NBA.

However, none could have expected that Bird would actually deliver on his pregame trash talk with a triple-double performance that included 40 points on 17-27 shooting from the field, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists!


“We handled things fairly seriously back then. You tried to address the situation and took it personally when the gentleman gave you that many points. The NBA was a defensively oriented league in the 1990s. Guys with strong defensive skills were highly respected.


Kemp was prepared for the 1990–91 NBA season to be his breakout year after using his rookie season to study the professional game and keep getting better. And right from the start, he didn’t let anyone get in his way and didn’t disappoint anyone in the spectators. Kemp’s mid-range game was the area where his progress from his rookie year was most noticeable.


Kemp against the Celtics

Kemp’s breakthrough season included two games against the Boston Celtics. In the Boston Garden on December 3, 1990, the Celtics defeated the Supersonics by a score of 33 points, although Kemp managed to score 19 points on 9–20 shooting to keep the game close. The Celtics triumphed in Seattle once more on February 12, 1991. Kemp scored 16 points in 21 minutes of play this time



The final regular-season match featuring two of the greatest basketball players ever took place in Seattle on December 27, 1991. Once more, the game was won comfortably by the Celtics and Bird, 110-87. In just 17 minutes of play after coming off the Supersonics bench, Kemp managed just 5 points on 2–7 shooting, while Bird scored 25 points on 10-15 shooting from the field.

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