Charles Barkley Openly Admits Larry Bird Wasn’t The Nicest Guy on the Court: ‘Larry Would Beat You With His Will and His Mind’

Former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird dominated the NBA throughout much of his illustrious career. Bird built a strong reputation through his passion for the game, skill, and ruthless trash-talking. It also left a strong imprint on fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.

Larry Bird’s illustrious NBA legacy

Bird entered the NBA as a heralded collegiate talent who quickly became one of the league’s greatest players.

He spent his entire 13-year career with the Celtics, guiding the franchise back to championship prominence. Bird won three NBA titles and two Finals MVP awards in five appearances, received three regular-season MVP awards, and earned 12 All-Star selections and nine All-NBA First Team nominations.

He still stands as the only forward in NBA history to win three straight regular-season MVP awards. Beyond that, Bird developed a strong reputation for being arguably the league’s best trash-talker. His approach to the game also earned recognition for another notable aspect.

Charles Barkley openly admits Larry Bird wasn’t the nicest guy on the court: ‘Larry would beat you with his will and his mind’

The former Celtics star took no mercy against his opponents, placing winning above all else.

During a recent interview on The Dan Patrick Show, fellow Hall of Famer Charles Barkley voiced that Bird wasn’t a nice person on the court and imposed his presence through other means due to his lack of physicality. 

“No, but he didn’t have that physical ability,” Barkley said. “Larry would beat you with his will and his mind, but he didn’t have the athletic ability that Kobe, Michael, and LeBron and those guys have. Larry willed himself and his team to win.”

Barkley’s comments shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Bird’s mindset focused only on the Celtics. However, he admitted on many instances that Magic Johnson was the lone player outside of Boston who he closely followed. Outside of that, he didn’t care for anything but leading his team to compete for NBA championships.

Bird’s game didn’t feature a physical component but was instead based on skill. That aspect, combined with his ultra confidence and high basketball IQ, elevated him to sustained greatness. By that same token, Barkley voiced that Bird’s biggest rival also didn’t impact the game through physicality.

“Same thing with Magic Johnson,” Barkley said. “Magic Johnson was a great, great player, but he couldn’t physically impose his will upon you like Kobe and Michael could.”

Bird didn’t approach the game to make friends, and that left opponents with that perception of him. Beyond that, it’s a mentality that many players during that era shared and he fully embraced it.

Charles Barkley once held a rough reputation

Since stepping into retirement, Barkley has endeared himself to many fans and his peers through his work on TNT’s Inside the NBA and various other dealings.

However, like Bird, he didn’t exactly have the best reputation. Barkley had an unfiltered personality that led to some fiery exchanges with the media. He played with a hard-nosed approach to the game fueled by his desire to prove he belonged as an undersized frontcourt player.

His outspokenness often got him into dicey situations, but it’s remained a big part of who he is as a person. Over the years, his reputation has improved because of his candid openness about his past and admission of mistakes.

Ultimately, Barkley shared much of the same mental approach as Bird, and it played a part in getting the most out of his talent.

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