Welcome back to the "Best Ever" series as we now continue with the second player who has a terrific case in the GOAT discussions and his name is Larry Bird.

The Celtic pride was dominating games throughout the entire 80's. He led Boston to three championships in a extremely competitive and tough era, as he helped to a renew and establish a Celtics dynasty again after long time.

Bird was an all time great who had terrific skill set, amazing intelligence, was as complete as they come and was a force on the court that was the main reason behind those championship teams.

Without further ado, here are the reasons why Larry Bird has a great case for the honor of the best player of all time! Enjoy!





1.Shooting



Larry Bird was arguably the greatest shooter in the NBA History, period. He was a terrific threat from any position out there and was capable to hit nothing but the bottom of the net easily from just about anywhere.

He was the first man to shot at least 50% from field, 40% behind the three point line and 90% at the free throw line. He was the first member of the 50/40/90 club, elite place for those deadly shooters.

Larry had one of the deadliest mid range games too. He was excellent from the post as well. He was capable to make variety of difficult and contest shots. He saw a bigger defensive attention than any shooter to play the game, and his percents are off the charts.

Also,Bird was the first great outside threat who led twice in total three point goals made and was a reliable at the charity with excellent percentage. He also won three Three Point All-Star Contests, by being the first man to do that.

He could make a shot at anytime and he was the go to guy through the clutch too. In his peak during the '84-88 span, he recorded the following stats:

FG% 52.2 - 49.6 - 52.5 - 52.7

3P% 42.7 - 42.3 - 40.0 - 41.4

FT% 88.2 - 89.6 - 91.0 - 91.6

PPG 28.7 - 25.8 - 28.1 - 29.9



Not bad isn't it? It sure is. He was arguably the best shooter of all time and he was feared in the last seconds of the game where he was like a sniper.







2.Pure Skill Set



Based on pure skills, there wasn't arguably a more skilled player in the NBA History than Larry Bird. He was amazing in all of the aspects of the game and he excelled in all of them. There are many things that can back that up.

He was arguably the greatest sharp shooter to play the game, the finest passer and top non big man rebounder of all time.He was a threat in multiple ways, who made up for his lack of physical gifts with also being (arguably) the most smartest player ever.

Bird was an excellent defender as well, who knew how to defend well especially in a team concept despite his disadvantages. He earned a total of three All-Defensive Team thanks to his toughness and intelligence. He wasn't as bad as some think he was on that side.

Additionally, Larry was a walking triple double machine. He recorded 59 of them in the regular season and 10 in the post season which is terrific. He was a terrific scorer, who had one of the finest offensive arsenals of any time.

However, during his peak in '86, he illustrated his skill set to a perfection that may not be matched.

He averaged 24 points, 9.7 boards and 9.5 assists for the Finals series en route to a Finals MVP and title. So, he basically averaged a triple double in the biggest stage of his basketball career and that enough shows just how skilled Bird was!

Based on pure skills, there wasn't a player with a better skill set than Larry's. He was dominating games in style even though he wasn't a physically gifted athlete to begin with yet he still achieved much. He's amazing!









3.Intelligence





Another thing Larry Bird is known for is his amazing intelligence. He was arguably the most smartest player to step on a hardwood. He made up for his lack of physical gifts by relying on his IQ, ability to make the right plays and so on.

He was capable to read an inbound play, pretend to ignore and then end up with the steal. Also, he made numerous smart plays on the defensive end where he was excellent team defender and often made the key block or steal at the right time.

Bird was a terrific decision maker of his own, who always knew when and where to pass the ball too. He never rushed and regardless was it on offense or defense, he made the smart plays all the time.







4.Passing





Although he's credited for revolutionizing the 'point' forward position and being an excellent passer, Larry Bird ability to pass the ball is overlooked because he was so much better than you think. He was arguably the best non guard passer in the NBA History.

First of all, he was an unselfish player who had arguably a better court vision than anyone who played the game. He could deliver with a variety of accurate and fancy passes. He was at his best when he split the defense to make the easy dime.

He was criticized for being slow, but he often end up leading successful fast brakes for his team. He spotted everything around him and was great at proving high scoring chances for his team mates. He was also a terrific decision maker.

Second of all, he has some stats to confirm this. For years in the league, Larry led all non guards in assists. His career high averages are 7.6 and 8.8 dimes in both regular and post season. He also averaged 9.5 assists during the '86 Finals, a real proof of his abilities.

Third, he took passing to the next level by turning it into an art form along side Magic and he continued the revolution of the point forward position that in which he excelled. Here are few videos that proof that. First video, second . Enjoy!







5.Clutch Shooting



Larry Bird was arguably the best clutch shooter in the NBA. He simply excelled in the last seconds, when the game was decided and he's got a long list of buzzer beaters from memorable games and most of them come from playoff time.

Nobody was arguably more feared than Larry Legend when it mattered most. He was a cold blooded player who was a sharp shooter, had a terrific arsenal of moves and was capable to find the bottom of the net in variety of ways and from just about anywhere.

Bird was mentally tough, was so confident and he found even space to get a shot. He'd hit the jumper, even though he saw a great defensive attention and everybody knew where the ball was going.

He was indeed, the game's greatest clutch shooter of all time. I'll also point this quote which describes how good Larry truly was in the clutch. "Of all the people I play against, the only one I truly fear is Larry Bird."--Magic Johnson.

Here's a video with his top buzzer beaters. Enjoy!











6. Team Superstar



There hasn't arguably been a better team superstar in the NBA History, than Larry Bird. He was a skilled and unselfish forward who was really bright and was the main force behind three championship runs during an extremely tough and competitive era.

Larry was an amazing player who turned Boston to a playoff ready team during his first year as a pro. He emerged as a true superstar in his rookie season when he helped his team to make a turn around from 29-53 to 61-21 and he showed how good he truly was.

Bird was a terrific leader, who inspired and motivated his team mates all the time. In the 1983-84 Finals against Magic and the Lakers, he made a comment that the Celtics were playing like softies.

How did they respond? The rest of the team were fueled by the star's comment and they responded by playing rough and physical. Led by Larry Legend, they won the championship in seven games and he won the Finals MVP honors.

Not many would dare to do that. He also made his team mates a lot better with his passing. That's the reason why they never aquried a playmaker, because they already had one in Bird.

He'd run numerous fast brakes well, make the double teams pay while often lead and find the open men for the high scoring chances. He wasn't focused on winning, not individual statistics unlike some players.

Bird was dominating games in a fashion, leading Boston to five trips to the Finals while winning three of them. He made all around him better, did everything well, excelled in the clutch and is a true "Celtics" pride!







7.Competitiveness





Although there are some players notable for their competitiveness such as the likes of Kobe, Jordan and West. But, no one was arguably more competitive player in the NBA History than Larry Bird.

Bird was a very tough competitor who was the leading force behind three Celtic championships in the 80's. He was a guy who absolutely never backed down from anything and always delivered when needed.

His competitive spirit is also best described by his trash talking, as there're numerous examples for that. Bird would sometimes say to his defender what was he going to do and despite that, he still made his shots.

He was truly amazing. Here's one quote that speaks a lot about his competitiveness. "Once you are labeled 'the best' you want to stay up there, and you can't do it by loafing around. If I don't keep changing. I'm history." That was by Bird himself









8.Trash Talking



One of the things Larry Bird's mostly known for is his trash talking, which he did better than anyone who ever stepped on a basketball court. Many people talk trash and all of that, but few can back up what they're saying. Larry always backed his word.

He was so confident in his abilities that he always seemed to be right about his call. He was notable for saying to his defenders what he was going to do and then he'd do it like he promised. Here are some notable examples.

"I want all of you to know I am winning this thing. I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish up second." This was during the three-point shooting contest on All-Star Weekend 1986

"Merry fucking Christmas!", this was during a Christmas game against the Indiana Pacers, before the game Bird told Chuck Person that he had a Christmas present waiting for him. During the game, when Person was on the bench, Bird shot a three-pointer on the baseline right in front of Person.

“I’m going to get [the ball] right here and I am going to bury it in your face.” and McDaniel responded by saying, “I know, I’ll be waiting.”After Larry made his shot, he told that to his defender, “I didn’t mean to leave two seconds on the clock."

Bird was shooting free throws late in a game and Reggie Miller tried to make him miss. But this happened only.

"You got to be kidding me. Rook, I'm the best shooter in the league right now. In the league. Understand? And you're up here trying to say something?" and he made his attempts count.

So yes, he was the greatest trash talker and backed up everything he said. He was that good.









9.Ability To Play In Any Era





Larry Bird was one of those all time greats who was capable to play in any era. He was a walking triple double machine who made impact in numerous ways and was really a dominant force.

Bird possessed arguably the finest skill set and highest basketball IQ of all time. There wasn't a thing he couldn't do out, was it to score, pass, rebound, defend and so on. Plus, he was really smart man who was always three steps ahead of his competition.

He made up for the lack of physical gifts like speed, athleticism etc by relying on his amazing intelligence. Additionally, Larry was a hard worker with nice work ethic and he always willed himself to improve. He'd adjust himself to the situation and respond quickly.

Critics said he was slow, yet he'd often run successful fast brakes. Critics say he might not be a good power forward, yet he dominated from the position. What ever was the deal, he made the needed adjustments to establish himself as a force.

Also, he was mentally strong player who never backed down from anyone, was competitive and excelled in the clutch. He came up huge when it was really needed. That's why he almost averaged a triple double in '86 vs Houston and has a long list of buzzer beaters too.

Larry was an unselfish player, who defined the term team superstar and made really everyone around him much better. His individual stats weren't as important as winning was. He was truly amazing!







10.Accomplishments



Larry Bird has a nice career resume filled with lots of great accomplishments that speak for themselves. Here's the list
  • 3× NBA Champion (1981, 1984, 1986)
  • 3× NBA Most Valuable Player (1984–1986)
  • 12× NBA All-Star (1980–1988, 1990–1992)
  • 2× NBA Finals MVP (1984, 1986)
  • 9× All-NBA First Team (1980–1988)
  • All-NBA Second Team (1990)
  • 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1982–1984)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1980)
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (1980)
  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (1982)
  • 3× Three-point Shootout champion (1986–1988)
  • NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • #33 retired by Boston Celtics
  • NBA Coach of the Year (1998)
  • John R. Wooden Award (1979)
  • Naismith College Player of the Year (1979)
  • AP National Player of the Year (1979)
  • Oscar Robertson Trophy (1979)
  • Adolph Rupp Trophy (1979)
  • NABC Player of the Year (1979)


Now, that's not bad at all. Obviously, he has numerous notable achievements that help him to stack up well against the other contenders for the honor of the best player of all time.





11.Peak





Larry Bird's peak seasons were arguably the best. The numbers prove that.

FG% 52.2 - 49.6 - 52.5 - 52.7

3P% 42.7 - 42.3 - 40.0 - 41.4

FT% 88.2 - 89.6 - 91.0 - 91.6

PPG 28.7 - 25.8 - 28.1 - 29.9

RPG 10.5 - 9.8 - 9.2 - 9.2

APG 6.6 - 6.8 - 7.6 - 6.1

SPG 1.6 - 2.0 - 1.8 - 1.6



Amazing, isn't it? It sure is. Also during his successful title runs, he got the following numbers



----------------------------Regular Season Averages:24.3 points, 10 boards, 6.3 dimes, 49.6% FG

--------------------------------Post Season Averages:23.8 points, 10.3 boards, 6.5 dimes, 47.2% FG

--------Finals Averages (in those where he won):23.1 points, 13.1 boards, 6.5 dimes, 46.5% FG

------------------------------------Game Seven Stats:27.0 points, N/A boards, N/A dimes, N/A FG%



So in general, Bird's level of play did increase when it mattered most. By the way, this is during the toughest era in professional basketball.






12.Quotes





"Of all the people I play against, the only one I truly fear is Larry Bird."--Magic Johnson.

"Who in their right mind wouldn't listen to what Larry Bird tells them? He knows what it takes to be a successful player, and he's letting us do the things to have the success."------Reggie Miller

"Guys like Larry Bird -- he played so hard, he wants everybody else to play hard. That's not unreasonable. Any coach would want that and demand that"----Magic Johnson














--Darko Mihajlovksi

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