Larry Bird would have retired early if Len Bias had lived | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Larry Bird would have retired early if Len Bias had lived

Larry Bird was a guest on Bill Simmons latest podcast. Bird spoke about the trade rumors involving the original Big 3 and the new Big 3. He also said he would have retired in 1988 if Len Bias had lived. Here are some excerpts:

If you were the Celtics GM in the late 80s, what would you have done with the Big 3:

I would have kept them. The one thing about Red was loyalty and that's why I never wanted to leave there because I knew he had my back. He cared for me, he wanted me to do well…. Danny did tell Red he should trade us because we didn't have much in the tank. 

On trading McHale for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins:

Red coached many great players on many great teams… and there's just too much loyalty there. The way he did things, he felt he could rebuild it in a short period of time. Kevin McHale's don't come around very often. If you want to hold on and play 15 years and two minutes a game, that's one thing. But in 1987 Kevin played through a broken foot and he's still paying for it. You don't find those types of guys any more. Kevin gave his heart and soul to the Celtics and Red knew that.

On contentious contract negotiations late in his career:

Red knew I wasn't going anywhere… I would have never left Boston unless they traded me.

If Len Bias sticks around, how much longer do you play?

I would have left in 1988. I would have retired in 88. I was having ankle problems. They were going to have to detach my Achilles to get these spurs out. I knew I was going to miss the whole year. If he was there I would have shut it down right here. 

Four years in a row, we went to the Finals. Playoff basketball is completely different. Our bodies don't have time to recover. You go 2 1/2 months and then you start again… you feel better but you haven't recovered. 

Detach the Achilles to remove bone spurs? Can you imagine LeBron James dealing with an injury like that? 

Listen to the podcast, there's some great stories from the 80s.

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  • Rico

    It is a great listen for any basketball fan.

  • Jerry Sondler

    Love Bird to death….but, he`s rewriting history.
    Bias or no Bias…no way Bird retires in 1988, at age 32.
    He was way too much of a competitor. With Bias coming into his own, Boston would have been legitimate contenders. Bird would have wanted to catch Magic in titles, deny the Bad Boy Pistons, battle Jordan`s Bulls, etc.

    So what does RedsArmy think of this? I was just wondering.

  • Jason

    He hits the nail on the head on both. IMO, Kobe’s a truly lamentable human being (of course I think that of plenty of athletes) and Prince James, well I would like to say he’s just a big kid, but he takes it a big douchy step further.
    Basketball-wise, though, LBJ is CLEARLY a freak talent if ever there was one and Kobe, of course, is also an all-time great. Even Celtic fans can’t deny this.
    I agree with Bird that LBJ is easily the more valuable player. I also agree that Kobe’s determination, work ethic and killer instinct are otherworldly and worthy of SIGNIFICANT praise.
    As for who to play with? Yes, Kobe’s a killer. And he has 5 rings, which for most would end the discussion. But come on, it’s a team game (even if b-ball can be dominating by a single player more so than other sports). Kobe didn’t win 5 rings; the Lakers did. Shaq, and others didn’t matter? Gasol, Bynum, Odom didn’t matter? Kobe did it all himself? He often tries to, but c’mon, it took more than one great player (and he had an all-time coach as well). And LBJ didn’t fail to win a ring, the Cavs (give me break with that supporting cast not to mention coach) and Heat (he’s only 0 for 1 so far and it was a 2.5 man team) did. And don’t worry, LBJ will still end up with multiple rings. Anyway, Bird tabs LBJ (if he wants to have fun) and Kobe (if he wants to win rings), and I see why he makes those decisions. But I would take LBJ no matter the disclaimer.

  • Geo

    Reds Army says that link is as dead as Pete Maravich that’s what they think. Bird was playing in more pain than any other NBA player would have.