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Larry Bird is one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, but he almost never pursued an NBA career in the first place. Before entering the NBA draft in 1978 out of Indiana State, Bird figured he would wind up pouring concrete as a construction worker.

Yeah, seriously.

Larry Bird’s legendary NBA career

Bird earned the nickname Larry Legend for a good reason. The Boston Celtics great played 13 seasons in the NBA and finished his career as arguably one of the five best players to ever suit up in the league.

Over the course of his incredible career, Bird averaged 24.3 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Celtics. He shot 49.6% from the field and 37.6% from three, and he led the league in free throw percentage in four different seasons.

In 13 years with the Celtics, Bird made 12 All-Star appearances, 10 All-NBA Teams, and three All-Defensive Teams. The star forward won three NBA titles, three MVP awards, and two Finals MVPs. Bird has a spotless resume filled with accolades and NBA records. It’s absurd to think he had any other career path in mind before pursuing professional basketball, but it’s true.

Larry Bird thought he was going to become a construction worker

Larry Bird almost became a construction worker instead of an NBA legend.
Larry Bird looks on before a game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks | Tom Berg/WireImage

Bird was an exceptional high school basketball player at Springs Valley High School in French Lick, Indiana. He was so dominant that he earned a scholarship to play at Indiana University in 1974, but he didn’t have an easy time adjusting to a bigger town.

So, Bird dropped out of school shortly after joining the Indiana basketball team. After returning to French Lick and working as a garbage man for a year, Bird enrolled at Indiana State to restart his basketball career. He became such a huge star there that he grew into a top draft prospect, and he went No. 6 overall in the 1978 NBA Draft.

But before making it to the NBA, Bird figured he would end up as a construction worker. At least, that’s what he told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe in 1985.

When I was at [Indiana] State, finishing to get my degree, they had me teaching special needs kids in a high school. That was tough. It gave me a lot of respect for people who do that.

I thought I’d wind up being a construction worker, pouring concrete. I wasn’t very good at shop in school, but I’d been around construction. As far as basketball goes, I just wanted to be the best player on my high school team.

Larry Bird

If Bird did decide to become a construction worker, he probably would’ve wound up as one of the greatest concrete pourers of all time.

A wise choice in the end

Bird was a simple man growing up in a small town in Indiana. He never expected to see fame and fortune when he grew up, but he quickly found out he had a special talent on the basketball court. That talent eventually brought him impressive riches and a Hall of Fame plaque, but he would’ve been just as happy working construction and living a simple life in his hometown.

But pouring concrete wouldn’t have helped Bird build up a $75 million net worth. It’s safe to say he made a wise choice.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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