As Larry Bird Pondered His Future With the Boston Celtics, He Fired Off 1 Horrible Take
It was May 1990, and the Boston Celtics had just been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Larry Bird wasn’t getting any younger. He, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale, arguably the best frontcourt trio to play in the NBA, were all in the mid-30s. There wasn’t a whole lot of help in sight.
After his season was over, Bird pondered his NBA future. He wondered what was next for him and the Celtics. As he spoke, he offered one horrible take that never came close to becoming a reality.
Larry Bird brought the Boston Celtics back to life in the 1980s
It didn’t take long for Bird to impact for the Celtics both on and off the court. After intense negotiations, the Celtics inked Bird to the largest rookie contract in history at the time. In typical Bird fashion, he was unfazed by the big deal.
Bird’s deal was for five years at $650,000 per season. His agent, Bob Woolf, and Celtics president, Red Auerbach, played hardball during negotiations that went down to the wire.
It all paid off for both sides. Bird was well paid for his services as he turned the Celtics back into contenders. The year before Bird entered the league, Boston finished 29-53. In the 1979-80 season, Bird claimed Rookie of the Year honors and guided the Celtics to a 61-21 season and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The following season, the Celtics won the first of three championships in the Bird era. The Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets in six games. They also won titles in 1984 and 1986.
Bird also was named league MVP in three consecutive seasons from 1984-96.
While Larry Bird thought about his future with the Celtics, he offered one bad take
The Celtics’ 1989-90 season was another disappointment by Boston standards. Although they won 52 games in the regular season, they were bounced by the New York Knicks in five games in the opening round of the playoffs. The previous season, the Detroit Pistons swept the Celtics in the best-of-three series.
After the loss to the Knicks that ended Boston’s season, Bird reflected. He wasn’t sure exactly what the future held. He would be 34 years old when the next season started. McHale would be 33 and Parish 37.
The future of Jimmy Rodgers, who was in his second year as head coach, was in question. Bird reportedly didn’t see eye-to-eye with Rodgers, but he shot that rumor down.
“Our relationship’s good,” Bird said after the season-ending loss, per United Press International. “Some press started it all. I respect the man. I respect all the coaches I ever had. Of course, I don’t agree with everything, I agree with 95 percent of it.”
Bird then offered his rough take when he was asked about Rodgers’ future.
“Jimmy Rodgers will be here long after Larry Bird’s gone,” he said. “Other players will come in here and win championships and they’ll forget about me.”
Rodgers was fired shortly after the loss to the Knicks and, clearly, nobody has forgotten about Bird.
Injuries forced Bird into retirement in 1992
Rodgers didn’t outlast Bird in Boston. Bird played another two seasons. Although he was an All-Star in both, he was plagued by injuries. Back problems forced him to miss time in 1991 and ’92. He called it quits after the 1991-92 season when he appeared in 45 regular-season games.
Bird made the retirement announcement right after the season to end any speculation about his future.
“This is enough. I’ve had enough to last me a lifetime,” Bird said, according to United Press International. “Whatever you hear from now or next year, or whatever, I will not be playing basketball.
“The pounding and the pain made my decision for me. I gave my heart, my body, my soul to the Celtics. For the past 17 years, I have put my body through living hell.”
He played 13 seasons and was a 12-time All-Star. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.