Skip to main content

While our favorite NBA stars may seem like superheroes capable of leaping over tall defenders with a single bound, they’re still human beings. Take someone like Larry Bird, for example. For all of his confidence and talent, the Boston Celtics legend suffered through plenty of low moments and physical pain. And, no matter how painful it might be for basketball fans to contemplate, he will eventually die.

That day, however, hasn’t come yet. Despite what you may have heard during the broadcast on Christmas Day, Larry Legend is still alive and well.

Mark Jones accidentally referred to the ‘late’ Larry Bird during the broadcast

Larry Bird gestures to the crowd while watching a Pacers-Celtics game.
Larry Bird isn’t a young man anymore, but he’s still alive. | Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge the challenges of calling a basketball game live on television. When you’re trying to narrate what’s happening while keeping your facts and figures straight across multiple hours, there’s bound to be a mistake or two. That’s exactly what happened on Christmas Day.

Ahead of the Bucks-Celtics game, Dorris Burke teased that Jayson Tatum was currently on pace to become the first Boston player to average more than 30 points per game across an entire NBA season. Mark Jones then took over and attempted to add some context. Unfortunately, he got a bit tongue-tied.

“Not even the late… the great Larry Bird…” he said, according to a clip preserved on Awful Announcing.

Was it a largely harmless error that any of us could have made while speaking into a microphone for multiple hours? Yes. With that being said, though, it’s still a relief to know that it was an error and Larry Bird hasn’t suited up for the big basketball team in the sky.

The ‘great’ adjective is more than accurate for describing Bird, though


Larry Bird Can Take Some Credit for Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA Success

While the “late” part of Jones’ commentary was clearly a mistake, we can poke at the “great” part, too. While there’s nothing wrong with using that adjective, it might be a bit of an understatement.

From a purely statistical perspective, Bird posted some elite numbers. As the broadcast suggested, he never averaged 30-plus points per season, but he wasn’t a slouch, either. The forward’s high-water mark was 29.9 points per outing during the 1987-88 season, and he averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 10.0 rebounds across his entire career. And, if you take Larry Legend at his word, he could have posted a triple-double every outing but simply chose not to.

From a silverware perspective, the Celtics star also covers himself in glory. Not only did he bring three NBA titles back to Beantown, but Bird also claimed two NBA Finals MVPs, three regular-season MVPs, NBA Rookie of the Year, and countless other honors. If you believe that trophies are indicative of a player’s success, Larry Legend has that side of the argument covered.

And, to make things even more impressive, consider Bird’s physical tools. While he may have clocked in at 6-foot-9, he wasn’t exactly dominating opponents with his physicality. The forward was rarely the best athlete on the court, but that never stopped him.

Consider, for example, what the famously competitive Michael Jordan said about his peer.

“He can’t jump, and he’s not quick,” His Airness once explained. “But you can’t increase your jumping ability or your quickness. He makes up for it by using his head, analyzing the opponent. It makes him better than the competition. Consequently, he doesn’t have a weakness.”

That’s quite the endorsement, especially coming from a man who would trash-talk his own teammates.

At some point, no matter how painful that may be, Larry Bird is going to die. Don’t save your appreciation for that day. Even if the famous forward has hung up his sneakers and is no longer hitting the hardwood, pull up some Youtube highlights and take a moment to watch.

You won’t be sorry.