“His First 9 Years Is The Greatest Start To A Career In The History Of The NBA,” says Bill Simmons on Larry Bird.

According to Bill Simmons, Larry Bird’s first nine years of play may have been the best beginning to an NBA career.

 

One of the best forwards the NBA has ever seen, Larry Bird transformed the role of a forward for his team by becoming a standout player on both sides of the court. According to Bill Simmons, Bird’s NBA career had the best start in history because of how exceptional his early years were.

“With Larry Bird, I’ve always stated this. In NBA history, he had the best career start in his first nine years of play. Three championships, five Finals, three MVPs, two MVPs in the Finals… After his rookie season, he was consistently among the top three players in the league; in fact, he was the fourth-best player in the league during that season.”

 

Throughout his first nine seasons of professional basketball, Bird participated in 711 regular-season games, averaging 25.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. During that period, Bird was named to nine All-Star teams, three All-Defense teams, nine All-NBA First Team selections, three MVPs of the regular season, two MVPs of the Finals, and three NBA Championships.

 

He received a great deal of recognition during his career, which spanned from 1980 to 1989, before injuries caused him to almost stop playing. After having hand surgery in 1988–89, he would have to retire after just three seasons. Bird’s 13-year NBA career ended before he accomplished all the requirements to become an all-time great in just nine seasons.


Larry Bird Sacrificed $4.5 Million To Retire Early

Although spectacular, Bird’s 13-year NBA career is not quite what one would anticipate from a player of his calibre. Given that players these days often play for more than 20 years, Bird’s 13-year career does put him in a special position because no other player of his caliber—Magic Johnson being fairly comparable—can claim to have played for as many seasons.

Bird’s injuries took a toll, forcing him to retire in 1992. Bird’s contract included a $4.5 million option that would have automatically been exercised if he had waited a week to announce his retirement. However, as Bill Bradley disclosed, the legendary player for the Cleveland Cavaliers refused to accept anything from the team if he was not competing for the team.

“He had a condition in his deal that specified his contract would automatically renew for $4.5 million annually if he didn’t retire by August 15th. He entered Celtics President Dave Gavitt’s office on August 12 and said, “Dave, I can’t do it.” My back is so awful that I’m retiring. “Larry, why don’t you think about it for a week?” asked Gavitt. “I know what day this is and if I’m not going to play, I’m not going to take the money,” Bird stated, narrowing his eyes as he glanced at him.”

Although Bird was playing extremely cautiously in order to maintain his NBA goal, his 1992 retirement may have allowed him to enjoy his retirement instead of spending a lifetime dealing with various back issues.


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