What a time to be alive
There are still many great sports in the world.
But there’s one game that remains the biggest, most popular and most talked about of all time: the NBA.
And the game’s greatest basketball player, Larry Bird, is about to turn 30.
He was born in the fall of 1957 and played for the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1984.
In that span, Bird averaged 25.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.
Bird’s legacy is synonymous with basketball and his passing will be celebrated on November 3, 2021, when he turns 40.
And he is still one of the most beloved figures in the game.
For those of us who grew up playing the game, it was the ultimate in fun.
But when Bird was in his prime, we never got to see his full potential.
Bird was one of just three players in NBA history to score more than 100,000 points and become the league’s all-time leading scorer.
And while he’s had a Hall of Fame career, it hasn’t been without controversy.
Bird is the subject of multiple lawsuits.
The most recent is over a 2006 incident in which Bird was arrested for speeding and then released on $250,000 bail.
In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Insider, NBA legend, former Lakers guard and current ESPN analyst and producer Mike D’Antoni, joins Bleacher to discuss Bird’s past and his future.
Here are the highlights from our conversation.
What was your reaction when you heard Larry was retiring?
I was so proud of him.
The one thing I never saw coming was that he would be retiring.
That’s what I was really excited about.
He’s one of those players that you want to see more of.
I thought he would continue to get better.
Did you ever think you’d be doing that?
I did, actually.
When I was growing up, he was so much fun to be around.
You could see it in the way he played.
He’d always play hard.
That was just the way I was.
When you hear about him, it’s hard not to just be a fan of what he’s done and be a part of it.
What did you think of his decision to retire?
He was always so focused on the game of basketball and the Lakers.
I think he was looking to make a name for himself and his family.
That just makes you want that next level.
That makes you more of a fan.
And then he just decided to retire.
He always had this vision of himself being the greatest basketball players of all- time, and I just didn’t think that was going to happen.
I always thought he was going play his best ball.
How did he feel when he was traded?
I wasn’t shocked at all.
I didn’t hear anything.
I knew he was coming to a new city and I was going home to the Lakers because that was the plan.
I just thought, I’m just going to play.
What is your opinion of Larry’s decision to do that?
It was hard to believe it would happen to him.
He had been an all-star for 30 years, the game had been around for a long time, he had played in the NBA Finals and he had won two MVP awards and four championships.
I know he would have been proud to be in the Finals.
How much did you know about the history of Larry Bird before you heard about his retirement?
I knew that he had been a good player in the league for a few years.
But I didn, for the most part, know that he was retiring.
Did that surprise you?
It was a surprise to a lot of people.
What do you think Larry Bird would have thought of the NBA’s retirement?
It’s something that is hard to imagine.
But he would want to play in the big leagues.
When he was on the floor, he would get all the love and love for the game and he loved it.
He would want more attention.
It’s just a matter of what the right people are going to do with that.
What are some of the other players that have gone before Larry Bird and what are some people that he inspired?
He would have loved to play with those guys, of course.
Bird had a lot in common with some of those other great players.
He played for a lot teams, he played in a lot different places, he went to a big university, he did some of that stuff.
But Larry Bird was a player that had to put the time in and work for the team to be successful.
That would be his way.
So it would be hard for someone else to do it.
Do you think the NBA should consider allowing retired players to be active on social media?
The way the NBA works now, you have to be a professional to play the game that you love.
The league is not in the business of creating a