Larry Bird Earned High Praise From the Flamboyant Wilt Chamberlain: ‘He Was the Correct Type of Basketball Player’
Larry Bird constructed a legendary career with the Boston Celtics, where he firmly established himself as one of the game’s greatest talents. Bird’s style of play garnered tremendous respect from his peers as he anchored the Celtics sustained dominance throughout much of the 1980s. His stellar play also earned high praise from fellow Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.
Larry Bird’s illustrious NBA career
Bird entered the NBA as a promising talent after a highly decorated collegiate career.
The French Lick product didn’t take long to change the franchise’s fate, transforming the Celtics into a powerhouse. His 13-year career featured Boston staying in championship contention, with three NBA titles in five Finals appearances.
Bird won two Finals MVP awards, earned three regular-season MVP awards, and received 12 All-Star selections and nine All-NBA First Team nods. He remains the only forward to win three straight regular-season MVP awards.
He also holds the NBA record, with five seasons averaging at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. What further fueled his legendary reputation was his trash talk, as it built a tremendous level of respect from his peers.
Beyond that, Bird’s approach to the game endeared him greatly to previous all-time greats he never played against, including legendary big man Wilt Chamberlain.
Larry Bird earned high praise from the flamboyant Wilt Chamberlain: ‘He was the correct type of basketball player’
Over the years, the level of Bird’s greatness has remained a prominent discussion due to the era he played in and his ethnicity.
However, many all-time greats have looked past those perceived detractors by focusing directly on his performance. During an interview with legendary radio host Howard Stern in the 1990s, Wilt Chamberlain pushed past those perceived circumstances and honed in what he believed made Bird special as a player.
“Well, I think that may be in the minds of many, but this man also is very, very talented,” Chamberlain said. “I think he epitomizes what a forward is supposed to do, especially in the game he played because he was technically correct. He was a correct type of basketball player, and most people today don’t play the game correctly, and he did.”
Chamberlain’s comment further underlined the great respect that Bird garnered from his peers past and present. The former Celtics star forward’s colleagues greatly appreciated his approach to the game as his playing style was more based on his skill rather than athletic ability.
Bird played an all-around game grounded in playmaking as a scorer and passer. His approach engulfed the team-first mentality that, more importantly, anchored the franchise’s consistent success. Bird’s playing style wasn’t flashy, but he remained highly effective despite lacking athletic prowess.
Beyond that, Chamberlain’s high praise further silences the negative chatter directed toward his legacy.
Former Celtics great’s NBA legacy goes well beyond his playing days
It’s been more than three decades since Bird played his last NBA game, but he remains extremely relevant.
Alongside former Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson, the two forever changed the game while elevating to a state of global popularity it hadn’t reached before them. Bird is among the gold standard for greatness as he accomplished sustained success.
Many of the game’s current best talents still regard him as the bar for excellence for the forward position.
“You can’t compare me,” Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic said via NBC Sports in February 2021. “More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball.”
Regardless of how much time passes, Bird will always remain a legend of the game.
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