Larry Bird’s Dominant Celtics Career Created an NBA Rule He Now Wishes the League Would Change

Former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird rose to prominence in the 1980s as one of the league’s best players. Amid his illustrious career, the NBA introduced the salary cap that saw him become forever linked to Bird Rights. However, the Celtics legend isn’t entirely fond of the name.

NBA adopts the use of Bird Rights

Larry Bird‘s impact on the NBA went well beyond the court as he played a significant part in the league’s handling of players’ contracts.

Bird’s trip into free agency in 1983 coincided with the league introducing the salary cap. With one of the biggest stars entering the open market, the NBA presented the opportunity for teams to spend over the salary cap limit to retain talent.

There are three forms of this option: Full Bird Rights, Early Bird Rights, and Non-Bird Rights. The first applies to a player having spent three years with the team without leaving in free agency. An organization can offer a max salary between 25% to 35% of the salary cap.

The second is placed on a player that has spent two years with a team without departing in free agency. Depending on what’s higher, it gives teams can dish out up to 175% of the previous salary or 104.5% of the average league salary.

The last designation is on players that have spent a single year with the franchise. The option allows a team to spend up to 120% of the previous salary. Beyond that, the proposed contract with any of these options can reach up to a maximum of five years. Meanwhile, any other interested team can only present a four-year deal.

The addition of the rule has changed the league, but it’s the name that still bothers the former Celtics great.

Larry Bird’s dominant Celtics career created an NBA rule he now wishes the league would change

Since the regulation became official, Bird rights or “Bird” Exception became the common terminology regarding the option.

However, it isn’t a term that is beloved by the Hall of Famer as he voiced to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press in June 2019 that he wasn’t too enthralled by the rule being named after him.

“I know a few years ago I was hoping they’d take that out of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement because you’re sitting at home sometimes and you hear your name and you’re like, ‘What are they talking about now?’ and it’s always the Bird Exception or the Bird Rule,” Bird said.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Bird push back. It’s well known that he’s a person that enjoys his privacy, and having to deal with hearing his name each time it’s discussed has become bothersome. The NBA could change it, but if they have not obliged Jerry West’s public desire to no longer be the logo, what’s to say Bird will get his way?

NBA will likely keep the name in place

Since Bird aired these strong comments, there hasn’t been any internal push toward changing the rule’s name.

It’s something that will firmly stick as it has for nearly the last four decades despite it being against the former Celtics great’s wishes. The NBA will be back at the table with the NBPA in the coming years as the current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2023-24 season.

The discussion could happen, but there remains much that may change. Nonetheless, Bird’s place in NBA history is recognized beyond the court even it wasn’t his doing.

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