Few names are more familiar to true basketball fans than Larry Bird. Bird is absolutely basketball royalty, putting together one of the truly legendary careers in NBA history. But his excellence goes far beyond his on-court abilities. He was also gifted in his other roles as well. There’s one particular bit of information about Bird’s career that proves he dominated the NBA in every possible way.
Larry Bird’s career as a player
Bird’s career as a player is legendary. Basketball fans first became aware of Bird when he led the upstart Indiana State Sycamores against Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA championship. Though Johnson’s team won, he and Bird went on to have the single most influential one-on-one rivalry in NBA history.
Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers dominated the NBA in the ’80s, playing in the NBA Finals four times. Bird won three NBA championships during that era. He was one of the best three-point shooters and best passers of his time and has gone down as one of the greatest small forwards in NBA history. Bird was also won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award three times.
After playing for the historic 1992 Dream Team at that year’s Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Bird retired from competitive play due to back issues.
Larry Bird’s career as a coach and executive
In retirement, some players like to stay at home and relax. Not Bird. He dove right back into the game he loves so much and excelled immediately in his new role.
Bird was named the head coach of the Indiana Pacers in 1997. He was very successful, taking the team to three straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances. In his first year on the bench, Bird won NBA Coach of the Year honors. Bird led a Pacers team stacked with talent, including Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, Rik Smits, Jalen Rose, and Antonio Davis.
According to ESPN, “Bird has the highest win percentage of any coach not to win an NBA title, regardless of any minimum number of games coached.”
After taking the Pacers to the NBA Finals and losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bird resigned. While Bird wasn’t quite able to win a title, he did challenge one of the great dynasties of the last 20 years. That version of the Lakers featured both Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, both in or close to their basketball primes.
Bird took three years off before returning as an executive to oversee basketball operations and run the team from upstairs.
This proves Larry Bird dominated the NBA in every possible way
Fans who watched basketball in the ’80s (or anyone with access to YouTube now to see his highlights) know what a great player Bird truly was. And his ability as a coach and executive are both without question. Because of all of this, Bird has accomplished one thing no other person in basketball history ever has.
In 2012, Bird won the NBA Executive of the Year Award. With this win, he became the first person to ever win Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year, and NBA MVP. It’s a phenomenal feat and one that Bird earned through both his play and off-court acumen.
Bird probably has one of the highest basketball IQs of all time. These honors he won just solidifies that fact. Anyone who watched him and his almost extrasensory ability on the court wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s just as good at evaluating talent and motivating players to play. There’s no question that whatever role he takes in the game, he’ll excel in.