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The NBA career of the man who would become Larry Legend began when the Boston Celtics drafted him out of Indiana State with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft.
Larry Bird, who returned for his senior season although the Celtics retained his rights, finished his collegiate career averaging 30.3 points per game over its duration and winning the USBWA College Player of the Year, Naismith Award and Wooden Award, all given to the nation's best player. He and the Sycamores, who had never even been to the NCAA Tournament, went 33-1 during his senior season, the only loss coming in the NCAA Championship at the hands of Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans.
The Hick from French Lick, as he was called because of his humble origins in small-town Indiana, burst onto the professional scene, averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game en route to a Rookie of the Year Award, the first of nine-straight All-NBA First teams and the first of 12 All-Star teams. Most importantly, though, the Celtics improved by a massive 32 wins and put together the best regular season in the league.
After acquiring Robert Parish and Kevin McHale during the offseason, the first through a trade and the second through the draft, the Celtics attacked the league during Bird's second season with renewed vigor. At the end of the year, Bird had achieved a monumental success: winning the NBA Championship in only his second season.
After Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers won the title the next year, Bird entered into a four-year stretch that rivals any other such run in NBA history. With renewed interest in the NBA ever-present thanks to he and Johnson's newfound rivalry, the Celtics reached the NBA Finals for four straight years from 1984-1987, winning in 1984 against the Lakers, losing to Los Angeles in 1985 and 1987 and beating the Houston Rockets in 1986.
Even more impressively, Bird matched Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain during that stretch as one of the only players in NBA history to be named MVP three-straight seasons, doing so from 1984-1986.
Through the rest of the 1980s, either the Lakers or the Celtics reached the Finals every single year as the greatest rivalry in the history of this sport took flight. But unfortunately, Bird sputtered after the 1988-1989 season and continued to play at a very high, albeit not all-time great level.
One thing that definitely kept running throughout his career was his mouth. As his back began to fail him, his jawing most certainly did not. Throughout his time in the Association, Bird was always one of the most prolific trash talkers.
For example, one Christmas Day, Bird told Chuck Person before the game that he had a present waiting for him. Sure enough, while Person was on the bench, Bird spotted up right in front of him, launched a three-pointer, turned while the ball was in the air to say "Merry f-----g Christmas" and then watched as the ball fell perfectly through for three points. It may be true that Bird was just as skilled at humiliating opponents with his mouth as he was with the ball.
The rest of the 1986 All-Star Weekend three-point shooting contestants can attest to this, as Bird supposedly walked into the locker room, surveyed the other people in it and then explained that he was trying to figure out who would finish second. Needless to say, he won.
Regardless of his trash-talking abilities, Bird was an excellent all-around player who was just as skilled on both ends of the court. Larry Legend retired in 1992, averaging 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game over the course of his career. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998, Bird will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats of this game.