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.