Larry Bird never backed down from an opportunity to trash-talk an opponent. Bird‘s legendary banter remains a firm part of his reputation beyond his stellar play. The former Boston Celtics great put that on display once more as he sent a playful verbal jab toward Dominique Wilkins involving his Atlanta Hawks statue.
Larry Bird shared intense rivalry with Dominique Wilkins
Bird and the Celtics dominated the Eastern Conference throughout much of the 1980s.
However, the Hawks remained a constant threat, with Wilkins leading the charge behind his scoring prowess and athleticism. Although Boston got the best of Atlanta in all three playoff series between the two teams, they featured some memorable battles between the Hall of Famers.
Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals saw Bird and Wilkins go toe to toe. The Hawks star scored a game-high 47 points, but the Celtics star forward recorded 20 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to lift his team.
Bird also put together his best offensive performance with a Celtics record of 60 points against the Hawks in 1985. His stellar outing featured memorable moments with him calling his shots while Atlanta’s bench reacted hysterically to his remarkable scoring spree.
The iconic battles between them built a strong lasting level of mutual respect.
“Let me tell you something: I wouldn’t trade that for nothing in the world,” Wilkins said via the Boston Herald. “You know why? Because those guys like Larry and Doc (Julius Erving) and Bernard (King), they made you a better player.”
The banter between the two Hall of Famer has extended well off the court as Bird took advantage of a unique opportunity to talk trash to his longtime foe.
Larry Bird ruthlessly roasted longtime rival Dominique Wilkins about his Atlanta Hawks statue
Wilkins spent the bulk of his illustrious 15-year NBA career with the Hawks.
The star guard led the franchise to tremendous heights while playing at a Hall of Fame level, earning nine All-Star selections and seven All-NBA team nods. He also holds the franchise record with 23,292 career points and led the Hawks to eight playoff appearances. All that earned him the retirement of his No. 21 jersey.
In 2015, the Hawks honored him with a 13.5-foot statue in front of the State Farm Arena. It didn’t take long for his longtime rival Larry Bird to quip a light-hearted verbal jab at the former Hawks great.
“I’m pretty sure it’s not made in a defensive stance,” Bird said via a video honoring Wilkins’ statue, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bird wasn’t an elite defender by any means, but Wilkins also didn’t garner the reputation for his play defensively. It was his way of getting in another playful shot at the fellow Hall of Famer. At the same time, his comments are factually correct as Wilkins’ statue isn’t in a defensive pose.
Nonetheless, it’s another way for Bird to poke fun at one of his fierce rivals well after their playing days.
Larry Bird was a legendary trash-talker
Bird was no stranger to trash-talking opponents throughout his illustrious 13-year career.
The former Celtics great earned an infamous reputation for his banter that took his iconic legacy up another notch. However, Bird separated himself with his ability to back it up.
“He’s always talked trash,” Patrick Ewing said during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show. “He talked trash against us. He talked trash against everyone else, but you know what the difference is that he could back it up.”
Bird’s legendary trash-talking is a significant part of his NBA legacy as one of the all-time greats.