Bill Simmons On Larry Bird: “His First 9 Years Is The Greatest Start To A Career In The History Of The NBA “

Bill Simmons On Larry Bird: “His First 9 Years Is The Greatest Start To A Career In The History Of The NBA “

Bill Simmons On Larry Bird: “His First 9 Years Is The Greatest Start To A Career In The History Of The NBA “

Bill Simmons believes the first 9 years of Larry Bird’s playing days might be the greatest start to a career in the NBA.

Larry Bird is one of the greatest forwards the NBA has ever seen, excelling on both ends of the floor and revolutionizing what a forward could contribute to their team. Bill Simmons believes the start of Bird’s career was so elite that he had the greatest start to any NBA career in history.

“I always said this about Larry Bird. His first nine years is the greatest start to a career in the history of the NBA. Three titles, five Finals, three MVP’s, two Finals MVP’s… There was literally never a point after his rookie year when he wasn’t one of the three best players in the league, and in his rookie year, he was the 4th best player in the league.”

Bird played 711 games of regular-season basketball in the first nine seasons of his career, averaging 25.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists. In that time, Bird won three NBA Championships, three regular-season MVPs, two Finals MVPs, nine All-Star appearances, three All-Defense selections, and nine All-NBA First Team appearances.

He won a large chunk of accolades from his career from 1980 to 1989, as injuries would slow him down almost to a halt later in his career. It started with hand surgery in 1988-89, but he would be forced to retire just three seasons after that. Bird’s NBA dream lasted for 13 seasons, but he had already done everything necessary to be an all-time legend within just nine seasons.

Larry Bird Sacrificed $4.5 Million To Retire Early

A 13-year NBA career is impressive but not necessarily the length you’d expect a player as elite as Bird to have played. Given modern players are pushing 20+ years, a 13-year career does leave Bird in a unique position as no other player of his caliber can claim to have played just these many seasons, with Magic Johnson being somewhat comparable.

Injuries took a heavy toll on Bird, which led to his retirement in 1992. Bird had a $4.5 million option in his contract which would have been automatically enforced if Bird held off on announcing his retirement for a week, but the Celtics legend didn’t want to take money from the franchise if he wasn’t playing on the court, as revealed by Bill Bradley.

“He had a clause in his contract that said, if he didn’t retire by August 15th, he would have an automatic renewal of his contract for $4.5 million a year. On August 12th, he came into Dave Gavitt’s office, President of the Celtics, and said ‘Dave, I can’t do it. My back’s too bad, I’m going to retire.’ Gavitt said to him, ‘Larry why don’t you think about it for a week?’ Bird narrowed his eyes and looked at him and said, ‘I know what day this is and if I’m not going to play, I’m not going to take the money’.”

Bird was playing with extreme precaution to keep his NBA dream alive, but deciding to retire in 1992 might have allowed him to enjoy his retirement instead of spending a lifetime dealing with various back issues.

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