Former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird always enjoyed the opportunity to engage in trash talking. One of the memorable occurrences came against Indiana Pacers rookie George McCloud that led Bird to verbally embarrass the young forward in front of his teammates.
Larry Bird holds legendary reputation for his trash talking
Bird spent his entire illustrious 13-year career with the Celtics, where he established himself as one of the game’s greatest talents.
His all-around play dominated the league as he guided Boston back to championship prominence. Bird won three NBA titles and two Finals MVP awards in five appearances, earned three regular-season MVP awards, and received 12 All-Star selections and nine All-NBA First Team nods.
He remains the only forward to win three straight regular-season MVP awards. Bird also holds the NBA record, with five seasons averaging at least 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. Beyond his dominant play, he developed a legendary reputation for his trash talk.
Over the years, numerous stories about his trash talking have further fueled his prestigious status. One of which saw him embarrass a rookie in front of his teammates.
Larry Bird once ruthlessly trash-talked a rookie in front of entire teammates: ‘Can’t you find someone who at least has a prayer’
Bird never shied away to trash-talk an opponent throughout his career, even as his body began to fail him.
During the 1989-90 season, Indiana Pacers rookie guard George McCloud drew the tough assignment of guarding the former Celtics great. Bird didn’t take long to verbal humiliate McCloud by calling him out in front of his teammates on the bench.
“Hey, I know you guys are desperate, but can’t you find someone who at least has a prayer?” Bird said to the Pacers’ bench via Fox Sports.
That season, Bird torched the Pacers, averaging triple-double type numbers with 24.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.8 assists while shooting 41.4% from the floor. He recorded at least 20 points in each contest with a pair of double-doubles that both fell an assist short of being triple-doubles.
After undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs in both heels in 1988, Bird came back strong in the 1989-90 campaign, averaging 24.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists while shooting 47.3% from the floor and a career-high 93.0% from the free-throw line. It marked the 10th time in his career, he averaged at least points 20.0 points per contest and earned him his 10th All-Star Game selection
Meanwhile, McCloud sparsely saw the floor in his rookie campaign, averaging 2.7 points, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 rebounds in 9.4 minutes in 44 games played with zero starts. It included him playing the Celtics twice, where he averaged 0.0 points, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 rebounds in 5.0 minutes per contest. In those two games, his lone shot attempt was a 3-pointer.
In other words, McCloud was a complete non-factor, and Bird still found a way to embarrass him in front of his entire team.
Larry Bird backed up his trash talk
Bird relished the opportunity to trash-talk or impose his will verbally onto an opponent.
What separated the former Celtics great was his ability to back up that banter with his play, further building his legendary reputation.
“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.”
Many of Bird’s peers shared Ewing’s point of view as he seemingly always followed through on his boastful words. Beyond that, it’s another aspect of the Hall of Famer’s legacy that continues to live on well after his playing days.