Michael Cooper says Larry Bird was a 10 dimensional player | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Michael Cooper says Larry Bird was a 10 dimensional player

CoopBirdSports Illustrated treats us to a wonderful excerpt from the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. In this tale, Michael Cooper talks about an encounter with Larry Bird:

To Cooper, Larry Bird was still merely larry bird (lowercase intended) — an overrated Great White Hype who captured a nation’s imagination more for his pigmentation than his playing ability. Cooper had seen it all before. Doug Collins. Mike Dunleavy. Tom McMillen. Mike O’Koren. White guys came, white guys went. Larry Bird? Who the hell was scared of Lar–

“I’m getting ready to wear your f—– ass out.”

The words were uttered softly. Almost in a whisper. Had the white boy just spoken in such a manner to Michael Cooper? Had he really said such a thing? Barely two minutes had passed in the opening quarter and Bird was already slinging yang.

“Bring it, mother——,” replied Cooper, hardly a linguistic wallflower. “Bring it.”

Larry Bird brought it. Celtics guard Nate Archibald dribbled the ball down the court. Cooper followed Bird toward the top of the key — “Larry’s standing there talking to me, talking to me. Nonstop talking” — then shadowed him as he walked down the lane and circled around a Robert Parish pick. “About to wear your ass out,” Bird said. “Wear … it … out … ” Bird pushed off Cooper. Cooper pushed off Bird. “Bring it,” the Laker said. “C’mon, f—– … “

Bird jumped back, caught a pass from Johnson. “I’m still here, m———–,” Cooper said, grabbing a handful of Bird’s green-and-white jersey. “I’m still here.” Abdul-Jabbar, guarding Parish, stepped off his man to help. Bird jumped to shoot, and Cooper lunged toward him — certain he was about to block the shot.

Then, quick as a dragonfly, Bird somehow brought the ball down and wrapped it around to a wide-open Parish. “I still have no idea how he got the ball to him,” said Cooper, “because my hands are up in the air, Kareem is coming out — and the only way he could have gotten it to him was to lob it over the top. But he didn’t lob it over the top. I’m still confused.” Cooper spun, just in time to see Parish slam the basketball through the hoop.

He looked back toward Bird, who smirked. “Wearing your ass out, m———–,” he said. “Wearing it out. … “

Despite their clashes on the court, Cooper developed tremendous respect for Bird:

“Covering Larry — that meant everything to me,” he said. “People said he was overrated … f—, no. If anything, he was underrated. What made him so good was you didn’t just have to worry about his scoring. You had to worry about this guy’s defense, his passing, his ability to save balls from going out of bounds, his ability to set picks and get people open. Larry could beat you in many ways. And he was the hardest player for me to play against, because you had to guard against all those things. Most players are one- or two-dimensional. Larry was ten-dimensional.”

Legend. Pure m———– Legend.

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  • Curt Hays

    Pure m———— legend.

    Good post, Chuck.

  • 84_and_7

    The older I get, the more I appreciate Bird. There may never be another Larry Bird ever. I just think with camps and AAU all these guys get to know each other and are paid WAY to much to really go at it.

  • Jester00

    Larry also hated it when Coop guarded him

  • GreenbirdCro

    Yup, his vocabulary is too often forgotten
    such a shame

  • KGino

    Would have loved to see Bird and KG on the court at the same time… Although all the F bombs mighta blown the court up

  • Duncan1

    why is this not racism? white boy this and white boy that. Could you imagine the other way around??

    • Curt Hays

      Probably because people that look like Larry Bird haven’t had to worry about their rights since the Constitution was written.

      • Duncan1

        so that makes it ok for a player to do that? Spare me the liberal white guilt.

        • Curt Hays

          I’m not trying to argue with you. The reality is, if white folks aren’t complaining en masse, then it must not be that bad.

          That being said, I do feel bad for the crap people had/have to put up with. I heard of this one guy, Bill Russell, who had to deal with a lot of racism. I don’t feel guilty for what he went through, but it’s okay for me to attempt to empathize with them.

          Also, I don’t think I will continue this discussion in the RedsArmy.com comment section either.

          • Duncan1

            Oh more people are getting fed up with the double standard in this day and age than you might think. But, I will agree with you to not continue this conversation on here. Love Bird, hate the Lakers!

          • Stan Keach

            It’s so easy to whine about today’s “double standard” if you aren’t, in part, a product of the legacy of several years of slavery, then Jim Crow laws and lynchings, then ghettos, forced segregation, limited job opportunities, and on and on. White privilege is real. We (I’m white, too) should see it for what it is — a gift, and also a responsibility. If you’ve had it (white privilege), you needn’t feel guilty, but do all you can to “earn” your time on earth — be energetic, ambitious, but also kind, generous, loving, tolerant and respectful to all people.

        • Stan Keach

          Duncan, even Larry Bird used to say, “I didn’t care who guarded me . . . as long as it wasn’t a white guy. I’d see that as a sign of disrespect.” Larry — one of the all-time greats — also said, “Basketball is a black man’s game — always will be.” Cooper is right . . . People tended to see a new good white player as a “great white hope,” and they tended to be over-hyped. With Bird, surprisingly, the hype was REAL. That’s why Cooper was fooled and why he’s justified saying the same things Bird himself knew were true.

  • Engelbert Gil

    Larry Joe Bird

    The reason why I became a basketball junkie and a mother fuckin’ die hard Boston Celtics Fan! 😀

    • Curt Hays

      Me too. The only reason!

  • CallingBatman

    I went to UNM with Michael Cooper. Genuinely nice guy when he was a student. That said, I cheered for Bird.

  • Merkin Muffly

    Been trying to find the game this happened to make a video on it, only problem is it mentions Tiny Archibald, then Dennis Johnson, and those two guys never played for Boston at the same time.

  • Larry Bird could go off on any given night. Man could ball out.