Happy Birthday, Mr. Bird
On the 50th birthday of your Uncle Buck's #1 childhood sports idol, Larry Joe Bird, UB has complied 33 random Larry Bird facts right off the top of his head...Enjoy:
1. He had a scholarship to Indiana University in 1974. He left after one day and later went to Indiana State.
2. He would have played for Bobby Knight. The Hoosiers won the NCAA title in 1976 without him.
3. Larry once promoted a burger from McDonald’s called “The Big 33.” It was a quarter-pounder(ish) with BBQ sauce and onions. They were awesome.
4. Larry won 3 NBA MVP awards in a row from 1984-86. Only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin and Michael Jordan have done the same.
5. Larry won a gold medal with “The Dream Team” in the 1992 Olympics. His point total for the final game: 0.
6. No one called Larry Legend “Larry Legend” while he played for the Celtics.
7. Larry retired days before a clause in his contract would have paid him millions more even if he never played again.
8. During a ceremony honoring Bird in the early 90s, Red Auerbach said if he had to start a team the one player he would pick would be Bird. Over Russell and the dozens of other hall of famers he coached.
9. Two of Larry’s most replayed highlights came at the Hartford Civic Center. The first was a game winning shot that rolled around the rim before dropping like water in a toilet, while the second was his over the backboard shot that while amazing did not count due to NBA rules.
10. At Larry’s retirement ceremony at the Boston Garden in 1992, host Bob Costas introduced a family member named Joe Bird that the family waved off, saying there was no brother Joe Bird. Joe Bird was Larry’s father who committed suicide when he was a child.
11. Larry worked as a garbage man in French Lick, Indiana before being recruited to go to Indiana State.
12. Larry was the MVP of the 1982 All-Star game.
13. Prior to Larry and Magic Johnson’s arrival the NBA finals were broadcast on tape delay.
14. Bird was 8-11 against Magic Johnson in the NBA finals games and 3-0 against Michael Jordan in the playoffs.
15. Larry won the first three NBA 3 point shooting contests at the All Star Game. In the 3rd one he didn’t even bother taking off his warm up jacket.
16. Larry was not always the best public speaker. During a victory rally following the 1981 NBA Finals Bird told the huge crowd he had seen a sign that “typified our season. Moses (Malone) does eat sh*t.” Larry also told an ESPN reporter, while with the Pacers front office, that he used to be insulted when the opposing team put a white guy on the court to defend him.
17. Larry was drafted 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, even though he had already committed to returning to Indiana State. The following year he signed with the Celtics.
18. When Bird scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks in 1985 the game was played in New Orleans. It broke the team record that had been set by Kevin McHale only 9 days earlier. The pervious best was 56.
19. A man convicted of murder in Oklahoma City in 2005 asked the judge to sentence him to 33 years in honor of Larry Bird. The requested sentence was actually 3 years longer that what he was supposed to get.
20. Your Uncle Buck (along with Cam and Griff) appeared as extras in Celtic Pride with Larry Bird in 1996. UB and Cam were ejected from the film at the Boston Garden for trying to meet the star, Dan Aykroyd. The day of shooting was the last event ever at the Garden, making UB and Cam the last two people ever to be kicked out of the historic building.
21. Larry was the 1980 Rookie of the Year
22. Larry was the MVP of the 1984 and 86 NBA Finals but not 1981. Cedric Maxwell won the MVP that year.
23. In 1990 Bird hit 71 consecutive free throws.
24. Bird appeared in the 1994 film Blue Chips as himself.
25. In an early 90s episode of Cheers it is revealed that Woody hates Larry Bird because he is from Hanover and Bird is from French Lick:
Sam: Then I'll get Larry Bird.Woody: No, no not Bird. If he's in, I'm out.Cliff: Woody you tell me you know Larry Bird?
Woody: I don't have to know him. He's from French Lick, Indiana. He's a doofus.
Carla: So what? You're from Indiana and you're a doofus.
Woody: Yeah but I would rather be a doofus from Hanover than a doofus from French Lick. Everyone from Hanover knows that French Lick is the doofus capital of Indiana. Of course everyone from French Lick thinks it's Hanover. It's the fuel of a raging controversy.
Later Woody overhears Kevin McHale telling a joke that Bird told him about how dumb people from Hannover are. “How many people from Hannover does it take to change a light bulb? It doesn’t matter because they’d have to drive to French Lick just to get one.” Woody says he has heard a different version of the joke.
26. Larry Bird Wine…Now available.
27. Larry has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated 17 times (15 if you don’t count the small box appearances). His first two and last two covers were not with the Celtics.
28. Bird once appeared on an episode of WBZ-TV in Boston's Sports Final with Bobby Orr and Ted Williams. It was the only time that the three legends were ever together at the same time.
29. Larry Bird used to look up into the Garden rafters before home games started during the National Anthem. He revealed at a press dinner years later that he was getting himself psyched up for the game by looking at Bobby Orr’s retired #4 and envisioning Orr flying across the ice after scoring the game winning goal in overtime of the 1970 NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
30. Larry is part owner of a Ford Lincoln Mercury dealership in Indiana.
31. Bird has called Dennis Johnson the greatest player he ever played with, Magic Johnson the greatest player he ever played against, Red Auerbach the greatest General Manager of all time, Pat Reilly the greatest coach of all time and Michael Jordan: God in disguise.
32. In the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles Del (John Candy) makes fun of Neil (Steve Martin) by saying that he plays with his balls too much. When Neil says he does not play with his 'balls,' Del laughs and says, “Larry Bird doesn’t do as much ‘ball handling’ in one night as you do in an hour.”
33. Larry Joe Bird turns 50 today on Dec. 7, 2006. He won world titles in 1981, 84 and 86 and led the Pacers to the NBA Finals in 2000 as a head coach. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bird.