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“When you see a player like Luka, when you see a player like Dirk, they’re great players, but they’re not Larry Bird” - Michael Jordan says Larry Bird’s work ethic was way above the game

 entered the NBA at the height of the  and  rivalry. As the  were in the East Conference, “His Airness” was pitted against “Larry Legend” numerous times in the regular season and the playoffs. The Celtics’ superior roster and experience allowed Bird to have a distinct edge over Jordan in head-to-head battles.

However, Bird wasn’t just relying on his team to carry him. It was the other way around as the Celtics’ franchise player made the Green Machine one of the best teams ever in NBA history. Just how good was “The Hick from French Lick” in his prime?

Jackie McMullan, in The Ringer’s , pulled up a classic of what Michael Jordan thought of his rival:

“I get so many questions about Larry Bird. The thing is, ‘Was he really that good?’ I say, ‘Yeah! He was really that good. White, black, green or yellow, he was really that good! When you see a player like Luka when you see a player like Dirk, they’re great players, but they’re not Larry Bird [laughs], by no means."

He added:

"You have to have a great appreciation to play against a guy who athletically, every single night, is at a disadvantage. But yet mentally and in the way his work ethic was, he was way above the game, he was way above everybody else.”

Coming from Michael Jordan himself, that was the ultimate praise any player could get. Considered by many to be the best to play the game, MJ had a front-row ticket to the legendary exploits of the man who was truly the “Great White Hope” for the Boston Celtics.

Bird was the Rookie of the Year in 1980, trouncing his eternal rival Magic Johnson in the voting. The following year, he would lead the Boston Celtics to the first of three championships of his career.

Even more mind-boggling was Larry Bird’s performance from 1980-1989. He was already a dark horse for the MVP in his rookie season and never dropped below fourth place in the annual best player award. Larry Legend was a lock in the top two in the MVP voting for six straight seasons.

Michael Jordan saw firsthand what the athletically-limited Bird could do when the latter was at his peak. It left an indelible impression on “His Airness” that he admitted to  his nasty trash talk from the master himself.

“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.”

Michael Jordan was winless in the postseason against Larry Bird

The great Michael Jordan, perhaps the best-ever, could not get past the hump called Bird and the Boston Celtics. MJ is 6-0 in his career in the NBA Finals whereas he’s 0-6 in the postseason against arguably the most clutch shooter in NBA history.

It helped that Bird had , Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton during the Celtics’ 80s dominance. However, the team was only as good as the unassuming and trash-talking country boy from French Lick, Indiana could carry.

“I like to mind my business, but it just looks really bad." — Shaquille O’Neal is not a fan of Larsa Pippen’s relationship with Michael Jordan’s son Marcus
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