- Height: 6'9"
- Weight: 220 lbs.
- Date Of Birth: December 7, 1956
- Hometown: West Baden Springs, IN
- College: Indiana State University
- Mascot: Sycamore Sam
- High School: Springs Valley High School
- Position: Forward
- Draft: 6th overall, Boston Celtics, 1978
In order to become a professional athlete, it is crucial that a person possess the desire to never stop working hard, to always be determined, and to never give up. While all professional athletes may contain these qualities, only a select few in history have ever achieved legendary status because of them. Larry Bird is one of those select few. He will always be known for his hard work, hustle, team play, consistency, and clutch performance on the basketball court.
Bird was born in West Baden Springs, Indiana in 1956. His family was poor throughout his youth, and it was Bird’s mother who demonstrated the determination to him that he imitated throughout his basketball career. That career started at Springs Valley High School, where Bird left as the school’s all-time leading scorer. After high school in 1974, Bird left for Indiana University to play on a basketball scholarship for the legendary coach Bobby Knight. However, Bird did not last long at Indiana. Homesickness and the sheer size of the university caused Bird to leave and head back home after only one month. Upon returning home, he attended Northwood Institute for a short time and did various odd jobs. He eventually enrolled at Indiana State University and the Bird legacy was born.
Bird played for three outstanding years at Indiana State. It all culminated in 1979 when he helped lead the Sycamores to the NCAA National Championship game, only to lose to Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans. Bird was so impressive that year that he won a total of three player-of-the-year awards: the USBWA College Player of the Year, the Naismith Award, and the Wooden Award. Even though he played only three years, Bird finished as the fifth highest scorer in NCAA basketball history with a career scoring average of 33.4 points per game.
Bird was originally drafted by the Celtics with the sixth pick in 1978, the year before his senior year. The Celtics knew he could return for his senior season, but due to a draft rule that was in effect at that time the Celtics could still sign him before a deadline date after his senior year. Bird did sign before the deadline, and at the time his contract was the largest ever signed by a rookie in NBA history. Bird immediately impacted not only the Celtics, but also the entire NBA. He did this also with the help of his rival Magic Johnson. The competition of “Bird vs. Johnson” is considered by many to be one of the best rivalries in the history of sports.
In his 13 seasons in the National Basketball Association, Bird developed a reputation as a consistent, tough, competitive, and team-oriented winner. He won Rookie of the Year in 1980, led the Celtics to winning three NBA Championships, won Finals MVP twice, and was named NBA MVP three times. Bird was also confident in all aspects of the game. His career averages reflect this completeness: 24.3 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game, 1,556 steals, a .496 shooting percentage, and a .886 free-throw percentage. He was also a standout performer with the game on the line; known to always shine in the clutch.
“Larry Legend” is undoubtedly one of the best players ever to pick up a basketball. By always playing his hardest, hating to lose, and staying cool when most people panic, Bird set the bar high for the players of this generation.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- Won three NCAA player-of-the-year awards in 1979: the USBWA College Player of the Year, the Naismith Award, and the Wooden Award.
- NBA Rookie of the Year in 1980.
- Three-time NBA MVP: 1984-1986.
- Won three NBA championships: 1981, 1984, and 1986.
- Two-time Finals MVP: 1984, 1986.
- Olympic gold medalist in 1992.
- Twelve-time NBA All-Star.
- Nine-time All-NBA first team: 1980-1988.
- One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History: 1996
- Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1998.
- Averaged a triple-double during the 1986 Finals: 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists per game.
- Averaged a career high 29.9 points per game during the 1987-1988 season.
- Played in 164 career playoff games.
- Career 23.8 points per game average in playoff games.
- Led the NBA free-throw percentage four times: 1983-84, 1985-86, 1986-87, and 1989-90.
- Compiled a triple-double in only three quarters against the Utah Jazz on February 18, 1985.
- Compiled a triple-double by halftime against the Washington Bullets on April 1, 1987.
- Had 69 career triple-doubles: fifth all-time.
- On March 12, 1985 scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks, all-time record for points in a game by a Celtic.