Larry Bird is known for a lot of things, but losing is not one of them. Bird won three NBA championships as a member of the Boston Celtics and helped continue a decades-long dynasty. The two-time Finals MVP won at every level of basketball.
All that winning just made the losses sting even more. Bird was once so upset about losing a game that the next day, he walked into the opposing team’s locker room and demanded a rematch then and there.
Larry Bird was a natural-born winner
During his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, Larry Bird won 751 games. His teams won NBA championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986.
He was a member of the 1992 Dream Team, widely considered the most talented basketball team ever assembled.
Bird was also 147-67 in three seasons as head coach of the Indiana Pacers. In 1998, his team made the playoffs and lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in seven games. He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year that season, his first as a head coach at any level. Indiana won its division all three seasons under Bird and made the Finals in 2000.
He later returned to Indiana as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations. He won the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2011-12, in the process becoming the only man in NBA history to win NBA MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.
One loss in particular rankled Bird so much he immediately wanted a rematch
Peter Vecsey is a well-traveled sports journalist and analyst, perhaps best known for his time as part of the NBA on NBC broadcast crew in the 1990s. Vecsey was along for the ride with Bird and the Celtics during one of Boston’s West Coast road trips post-All-Star break in 1986.
On the Drinkin’ Bros Podcast, Vecsey detailed an interaction he had with Larry Legend after the road trip’s first stop in Sacramento. Boston lost to the Kings in a game in which Bird missed two key free throws. Travel was a bit different in 1986, so the team stayed in Sacramento and practiced in the Kings’ arena the following day.
As the Celtics were walking in for practice, Sacramento walked out and headed toward its locker room. Bird told Vecsey he was going to follow the Kings and told the reporter to come with.
Riled up and ready to go, Bird told the Sacramento players, “You f****** guys, you think you’re f****** good? Let’s run it back right now. Let’s go,” according to Vecsey.
The Hall of Famer’s competitiveness led to basketball greatness
Of course, the two teams didn’t play a follow-up game that afternoon. But it wasn’t for lack of trying on Bird’s part.
Surely, though, the f-bomb attacks and intimidation factor of the defending MVP standing in your locker room and challenging you to a rematch is enough to have a second thought, at least.
It wasn’t the first time Larry Bird trash-talked and out-competed someone else during his storied NBA career. But it’s a perfect example of The Hick from French Lick’s cutthroat nature, which would help him go on to win two more titles with the Celtics and expand a long list of basketball achievements.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.