Of course, Larry’s not the only world-class athlete to come out of French Lick, Indiana. There’s…Uh…Okay, Larry Bird is the only world-class athlete to come out of French Lick, Indiana.
I’m going out on a limb and say that Bird is the most complete basketball player of all time. He excelled in all phases of the game – scoring, passing, rebounding, defense. Michael Jordan scored more and was certainly the greatest clutch player ever; others dominated one phase or another. But Bird could do it all. And he was the kind of fierce competitor who could put his team on his back and carry them to championships.
Look at his college experience, for example. He took Indiana State to the NCAA championship game. Indiana State hasn’t come close before or since. He had talent playing with the Boston Celtics in the NBA, but to demonstrate his impact, the Celtics went from 29-53 the year before he joined to the league’s best record of 61-21 his rookie season.
Bird won the Naismith Award for college player of the year. His Celtics won three NBA titles. He was the NBA MVP three times. Of course, he’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame. And he won the 3-point shooting contest three times.
Speaking of the 3-point contest, Bird never had any lack of self-confidence. The story is that he entered the locker room before the 1986 contest, and didn’t say a word. He just waited till he had everyone’s attention, then said, “I want all of you to know I am winning this thing. I’m just looking around to see who’s gonna finish up second.” And he went out and won. Here are more examples: