Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are among the NBA’s greatest players. The two all-time greats dominated the league throughout much of their respective illustrious career behind sustained championship success. Bird and Jordan may have played the game differently, but Hall of Fame big man Robert Parish believes they share a distinct trait.
Larry Bird and Michael Jordan dominated the NBA
Bird spent his 13-year career with the Boston Celtics, where he guided the franchise back to relevancy through sustained championship success. He earned three NBA titles with two Finals MVP awards, won three regular-season MVP awards, received 12 All-Star selections and nine All-NBA First Team nods.
Bird asserted his dominance throughout much of the 1980s, as he remains the only forward to win three consecutive regular-season MVP awards. Jordan took his turn to command the following decade, leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in as many appearances as possible with six Finals MVP awards.
His stellar play led him to accomplish it all on the hardwood, as he also earned five regular-season MVP awards, garnered 14 All-Star selections and 10 All-NBA First Team nods, a Defensive Player of the Year award, and 10 scoring titles. Although Jordan and Bird were two different players, they shared one unique quality.
Robert Parish revealed the unmistakable quality that Larry Bird and Michael Jordan shared
Bird and Jordan are two of the game’s greatest talents that thrived in high-leverage moments.
The unique instincts in those pivotal situations played a crucial part in their identity as players. Hall of Fame big man Robert Parish, who won three NBA titles alongside Bird and won his fourth title with the Jordan, recently voiced that the two all-time greats shared unflappable confidence in themselves.
“Only thing that those two had in common, because clearly Michael was the better athlete and more athletic,” Parrish said during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio. “That unshakable confidence in themselves…No matter what is going on, no matter how poorly they are playing. When they need to step up, most of the time, they step up and deliver.
“That’s one of the things that I noticed about Michael and Larry. That unshakable confidence in themselves. Not to mention, two of the all-time greats in the trash-talking. It doesn’t matter if they balling out or they just have one of those nights where they out of sync or they struggling. They never stop talking trash.”
Bird and Jordan never wavered in confidence in their ability, no matter the situation. It rooted their sustained success on the floor as each believed they could provide game-changing play that fueled their legendary trash talk.
Bird earned tremendous respect from his peers through his ability to back up his boastful banter. Meanwhile, Jordan voiced that he learned to master that skill from the former Celtics great. The two played the game differently, but each excelled behind their unfaltering confidence.
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird forever changed the NBA
Beyond the stellar play from Bird and Jordan, the two have played a pivotal part in shaping the NBA.
The former Celtics great dominated the 1980s, anchored by his iconic rivalry with Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson. Bird used Johnson as his muse to pull the most out of himself to lead Boston to sustained success. The fierce competition between them elevated the league to heights of popularity it hadn’t reached before.
Jordan asserted his dominance in the 1990s behind transforming the Bulls into a dynasty with two separate championship three-peats. His play has inspired the generations of talent after him to reach his level of greatness.
Although Jordan sits atop the list as the GOAT in many eyes, it shouldn’t diminish Bird’s legacy and irreplaceable impact. The two all-time greats’ legacies are forever etched in two of the most influential players in league history.