Larry Bird Revealed That His Key to Success Had Nothing to Do With His Physical Skills: ‘I Had to Come Up With Another Gimmick’

Larry Bird spent his legendary NBA career with the Boston Celtics, leading the franchise to historic success. Bird dominated the league through his all-around playing style that lacked a prominent athletic element. That absence in his game guided him to find what separated him from his peers.

Larry Bird dominated the NBA

After a highly successful collegiate career, Bird quickly guided the Celtics back to relevance.

His 13-year career featured constant championship contention while firmly establishing himself as an all-time great. He led Boston to three NBA titles in five Finals appearances while reaching the playoffs each season while winning 10 Atlantic division titles. The Celtics won north of 50 regular-season games all but once, including six campaigns with more than 60 wins.

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 is the only forward to win three consecutive regular-season MVP awards. Meanwhile, he holds the league record with five seasons averaging at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists.

Although Bird didn’t physically dominate the game, it fueled him to find another separating factor from his peers.

Larry Bird revealed that his key to success had nothing to do with his physical skills: ‘I had to come up with another gimmick’

Bird’s dominance didn’t come from his physical presence or any athletically-gifted trait.

The former Celtics great prided himself with his hard work and dedication to his craft that cultivated his all-around playing style. Bird never shied away from stiff competition while he felt that his quick learning ability helped him hone the fundamentals of the game, separating himself from his peers.

“You can have all the speed in the world, all the quickness, and be able to jump out of the gym, but I think the one thing you have to have is the desire to make yourself better every day,” Bird said during an interview via Basketball Network. “I wasn’t able to run fast or jump high, so I had to come up with another gimmick to get me through. The ability to learn quickly, to go out and learn the fundamentals and try and protect the fundamentals, and trying to get around of not having quickness or the jumping ability.”

Bird used the lack of physicality to emphasize his shooting and passing to impose his will on opposing players. He also possessed a high basketball IQ, making it extremely difficult for opponents to defend him. His innate feel for the game, combined with his passion for his craft, only pushed him to get the most out of his talent.

The Celtics only stood to benefit from Bird’s play, while it cemented him as an all-time great. Beyond that, his legacy remains a prevalent part of today’s game.

Legendary legacy remains a firm fixture in NBA history

It’s been nearly three decades since Bird played his final game, but his legacy still holds a strong presence over the league.

The former Celtics great helped define an era alongside Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson through their intense rivalry. The all-time greats played a pivotal part in pushing the league away from a disastrous fate. Instead, the iconic duo guided the NBA toward heights of popularity it hadn’t reached before.

Injuries may have plagued the backend of Bird’s career, but he remains among the gold standard for sustained success. He changed the game while playing a pivotal part in elevating the game of basketball into what it has become.

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