Larry Bird once absolutely crushed a “clubhouse lawyer team mate who he thought was talking to the media behind his back but he had the wrong guy.”
Larry Bird was a great basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics. He is also known as one of the greatest players in NBA history. In fact, he was so good that many people thought he retired when he left the league in 1992. But, no, he came back and played for the Indiana Pacers from 1994-1998.
With his renowned trash talk, Larry Bird annihilated opponents. Bird could shred anybody with a fast one-liner, whether it was telling Charles Barkley that “there isn’t a white man on the world who can defend me” or informing reporters that he knew he could find Crag Hodges “near the end of the Bulls’ bench.”
Bird typically kept his animosity for the other team, but late in his career, he turned it on a teammate. Bird retaliated with bullets fired back when a Celtic exposed the club’s locker room turmoil in the press. The issue was that it wasn’t his colleague who had leaked to the media, as he had assumed.
Larry Bird is a legend, yet he battled injuries later in his career.
Larry Bird is regarded as one of the all-time great basketball players. He dominated the NBA in the 1980s, together with his buddy and arch basketball rival Magic Johnson. From 1984 through 1986, Bird earned back-to-back NBA MVP titles.
Bird’s career was winding down by the late 1980s, and the superstar was struggling with ailments. As The Legend’s physical talents deteriorated, several Celtics began muttering behind the scenes that he needed to give teammates a larger role. At least one of these players expressed his concerns to the media, which infuriated Bird.
Bird smashed one of his teammates, who he didn’t care for anyhow, causing even more dissatisfaction in the team’s locker room. Jackie MacMullan, a former Boston Celtics beat writer, recently told the tale of how it all happened.
Bird retaliated against a teammate he despised and accused of gossiping behind his back.
MacMullan spoke on the Bill Simmons Podcast with Boston sports enthusiast Bill Simmons to recount the story of Bird smashing his teammate for talking to the press about him behind his back. Bird immediately assumed the leaks were coming from two people: Jim Paxson and Kevin McHale. According to MacMullan, Simmons said:
On that squad, Paxson and McHale had become very close. They had grown to be very close friends. And Bird had never liked Paxson in the first place, thinking he was a clubhouse lawyer, and was suspicious of him, and then he and McHale — Paxson and McHale – got acquainted. And there was some dissatisfaction at that period.
The Bill Simmons Podcast’s Jackie MacMullan
Bird believed that McHale was given a pass because the two players had “gone through the battles” together. Bird, on the other hand, informed legendary NBA insider Peter Vecsey that his buddy “had a yellow stripe down his back.”
Paxson’s name was never mentioned by the infamous “Hick from French Lick.” However, Vescey clarified that Bird was referring to Paxson, who only played in Boston for two seasons (1988-90).
The fallout was huge, and it wasn’t even Paxson who spoke to the media.
Larry Bird and Jim Paxson (from left to right) | Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.; Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Larry Bird’s comments elicited a broad range of responses, making Paxson a laughingstock, which angered the player:
The following day, I arrive, and Paxson flies at me! “I want a retraction!” he says. On The Tonight Show, they’re making jokes about him, and I’m like, ‘I didn’t write it.’ I’m not going to write a retraction.’ And he’s staring me down.
The Bill Simmons Podcast’s Jackie MacMullan
McHale attempted to defuse the situation by telling MacMullan that “he’d become a pariah overnight,” which angered Paxson. Paxson, for one, has vehemently denied being the source of the leak.
Paxson turned proven to be speaking the truth. “Of course, later on, we find out that Dennis Johnson may have been one of the individuals that was talking that way about Bird,” MacMullan said at the conclusion of the tale, implying that it wasn’t Paxson after all.
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