Former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird established himself as an all-time talent behind an illustrious NBA career. Bird was forced into retirement due to a nagging back injury. It led to many of his peers airing their appreciation toward him, with former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan taking a unique approach in congratulating the Celtics legend.
Larry Bird forced into retirement due to back injury
Bird spent 13 years with the Celtics, where he cemented his status as one of the greatest NBA players.
He accomplished it all on the court, winning three NBA titles and two Finals MVP awards, earning three regular-season MVP awards, along with receiving 12 All-Star selections and nine All-NBA First Team nods. However, Bird’s career ended sooner than he liked due to nagging back issues, retiring after the 1991-92 season.
“The last couple of years have been very tough on me, on my back and on my body,” Bird said on Aug. 18, 1992. “It was very hard to deal with, day in and day out. Unfortunately, it all came down to this.
“I would have liked to have played a little bit longer, maybe a year or two more, but there was just no way possible I was going to be able to do that. So today, I’m retiring.”
Bird’s retirement brought forth a gloomy day in NBA history, to which Michael Jordan put his unique petty spin on the situation.
Michael Jordan infused his pettiness into his message about Larry Bird’s retirement: ‘I am tired of seeing your face’
Bird’s decision to retire brought forth plenty of pleasantries from his peers congratulating him for an illustrious NBA career.
It featured many high-profile fellow stars, including several of his 1992 Olympic Dream Team teammates. Jordan was among those praising Bird, but his comments instead demonstrated his ultra-competitive nature.
“Larry, I hear that you’re retiring,” Jordan said via Basketball Network. “Thank goodness. I’m glad. I’m tired of seeing your face. You brought a lot of sad memories for me. I enjoyed it and I wish you a lot of luck and I think you had a great and wonderful career. You ruined a lot of my successful games against the Boston Celtics.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Jordan is the definition of competitive. It played a significant part in shaping the player he became, who many believe is the greatest in league history. His remarks from nearly three decades share much of the same sentiment he expressed during his Hall of Fame speech, where he also demonstrated his level of pettiness by publicly calling out his doubters.
Jordan’s comments toward Bird were conducted in a lighthearted manner, but he certainly didn’t forget the pair of first-round playoff exits against the Celtics. Meanwhile, he never received the satisfaction of eliminating Boston in the postseason.
Although Jordan’s remarks slighted the recognition of Bird, it likely gave the Celtics great enjoyment he caused that grief.
Larry Bird left an everlasting impact on the NBA
More than anything else, Jordan’s comments show the tremendous respect he holds toward Bird.
The former Bulls great routinely praised the fellow Hall of Famer, even crediting him for teaching him how to trash-talk opponents.
“Larry Bird is the greatest trash-talker and mind-game player of all time. He taught me everything I know about getting in folks’ heads,” Jordan said via The Athletic.
Bird earned the respect of his peers through his stellar play and trash-talking that he always seemed to back up. Beyond all else, he left an unmistakable impact on the game of basketball.