Larry Bird saw his basketball career end abruptly when a bad back forced him out of the game in 1992. While his NBA career was cut short, it wasn’t nearly as short as his rap career. Yes, the former Boston Celtics star rapped (using the term loosely) in 1986 after the Celtics won their third championship of the decade. Bird’s rapping life consisted of 14 words, and his skills were in serious question.
Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics dominated in the 1985-86 season
The year when Bird did his rapping was the year he and the Celtics dominated the NBA. Boston finished the 1985-86 season with the best record in the NBA, racking up 67 victories against 15 losses. The Celtics cruised through the Eastern Conference playoffs, dropping one game before facing the Houston Rockets for the championship.
The heavily-favored Celtics defeated the Rockets in six games and earned their third title in six years.
Bird led the charge during the regular season and throughout the playoffs. Despite the success, there was cause for concern early in the season when Bird’s back was acting up and he was mired in a rare shooting slump.
“There’s no question that I’m struggling,” Bird said, according to the Sun Sentinel in December 1985. “I know I’m missing layups and baskets underneath that I normally hit. But I’ve had to work hard at my game. I don’t have the skills that a lot of other players do.”
Bird eventually got back into his groove and finished the season by averaging 25.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. He missed just one game that year and won his third straight MVP.
Larry Bird’s short rap career got straight to the point
Bird probably should’ve just stuck to basketball, but with fame and success comes marketing. Bird and rival Magic Johnson were part of several commercials for Converse All-Star, the sneakers both players wore. After the 1985-86 season, several players, including Bird and Magic, got together to do an advertisement for the sneakers, which involved each star rapping.
Johnson opened the skit by singing, “The Converse Weapon, that’s the shoe. Let’s Magic do what he was born to do.”
Isiah Thomas then followed, “Maybe so, but that’s not all. Lets Isiah play like he’s 10 feet tall.”
The corniness continued. Bird’s teammate, Kevin McHale, even sprang into rap action.
“For the types of moves that never fail, the Weapon is the choice of Kevin McHale,” he sang.
It got worse as the commercial went along. There were also appearances by Mark Aguirre and Bernard King before Bird jumped in and mercifully ended the commercial.
“You already know what they did for me,” Bird sang. “I walked away with the MVP.”
The 1985-86 season was the pinnacle of Bird’s career
Although the back injury slowed him down in the early part of the season, Bird dominated again as he was the NBA’s best player for the third time in three years. The Celtics had also been to the NBA Finals for three straight years, winning in 1984 and ’86 but losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1985.
Bird said he would put that 1985-86 Celtics team up against anyone. The starting five was stacked with four future Hall of Famers in Bird, McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson. Danny Ainge, the fifth starter, said the team was as confident as any.
“I don’t think that we ever felt we were going to win just by showing up,” said Ainge in a video by the Boston Celtics commemorating the 1986 title. “We had a great deal of confidence. I mean when you have those kind of players, you’re very confident in your team.”
The Celtics did make a fourth straight trip to the championship round in 1987 but were again defeated by the Lakers. From then on, the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls took over as kings of the Eastern Conference.
Bird will never be remembered for his rapping ability, but he will always be regarded as one of the best to ever suit up in the NBA.