Watching "The Last Dance" makes you wonder how Larry Bird would fit in today's NBA

Watching "The Last Dance" makes you wonder how Larry Bird would fit in today's NBA

The Michael Jordan documentary, "The Last Dance," is great television and could not have come along at a better time.

You know I’m a die-hard Celtics fan, but it is impossible not be in awe of the 90’s Bulls. How could any hoop fan not get tingles down their spine when hearing The Alan Parsons Project “Sirius” as Jordan’s name boomed through the rafters.

To me, that always signaled something special was moments away. 

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Larry Bird had the best quote ever regarding Jordan. After Mike put up 63 points in a Bulls loss at the Garden in the '86 playoffs, Bird told the Boston Globe, “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

Larry didn’t hand out compliments lightly. Those words meant a lot.

As I was watching Jordan personally torch the Celts defense, I couldn’t help but notice how slow and plodding the Celtics appeared ... and that was the Celtics team that won 67 games. 

I asked myself the question, “How good would Larry Bird be playing today’s game?” Currently, the players are more athletic and more skilled, regardless of height. There were no seven-footers who could handle and shoot like Kevin Durant in the 80’s. At 6-9, Magic was an anomaly at point guard.

How could I ever doubt Larry Legend? What was wrong with me?

One great thing about my job — and there are many — is that I have the pleasure of knowing some people who have actually played professional sports, and one in particular who played with Larry.

I press Max on my cell. I still think it’s cool that I have the 1981 NBA Finals MVP (Cedric Maxwell) in my phone.

“Big Fella!” I cry into the phone as he picks up. 

“Big Fella!” He cries back. Yes, we have pet nicknames or maybe that’s just what I want to believe. He may call everybody, “Big fella.”


Quick Max story. I was filling in for the highly talented Celtic play-by-play man Sean Grande one night when Jared Sullinger took an awful shot in the fourth quarter. It was sooooo baadddd my call went like this, “Ohhh, boy,” as in “Oh brother.” As a Celtic fan, I was so disheartened by the shot I never called the play! And THIS WAS ON THE RADIO!  Max laughed so hard he tinkled himself in his fine custom-made suit. 

No reason for that story. I just like to tell it. 

After exchanging the typical "Are you OK?" pleasantries of our time, I ask Max if Larry would be Larry in today’s game. Honestly, his answer surprised me. 

Now, it's well-known that Max and Kevin McHale carried Larry’s ass defensively. The two had a good laugh when Bird was named NBA second-team all-defense. I was expecting Max to point out what I saw, Larry’s lack of speed, ability to elevate, etc…


“Larry would have fit in well today,” said his old teammate. “With his three-point shot and the pick and roll game, he would be better in today’s game.”

Whoaaaa, Big Fella. Better in today’s game than his glory days of the 80’s?

“No one would have touched him because of the tight whistles — and of course, he could shoot the three.”

The three pointer I understand, so I figured maybe Larry would just be a shooter. What do I know?

“Larry would thrive with the pick and roll. He could rebound and he was always a great passer.” Max went on to say Larry would be a better Luka Doncic, who was averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game before this season was suspended. 

Then I ask, “What about his defense, Max? You always had the tougher assignment.”

Then Max pointed out Larry could have benefited from the zone D of today just like he benefited from playing alongside himself and McHale. 

Shame on me for even thinking that Larry wouldn’t become a legend in today’s game, but he still looked slow ... but then again, who didn’t when playing Jordan? 

Enes Kanter reveals plans for message on Celtics jersey in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter reveals plans for message on Celtics jersey in NBA bubble

The NBA plans to give its players a unique platform in Orlando, and Enes Kanter intends on using it.

The league and the NBA Players Association have discussed allowing players to replace the names on the back of their jerseys with personalized messages that call attention to a charitable cause or social issue.

During a recent interview with CNN Philippines, Kanter revealed the one-word message he has planned for his Boston Celtics jersey: Freedom.

That word is a fitting choice for the Turkey native, who has repeatedly criticized the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for repressing its citizens' freedoms. Kanter himself is banned from Turkey and has been labeled a "terrorist" by Erdogan's regime, while his father was imprisoned in Turkey until recently.

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"That freedom means so much to me, not just for my country in Turkey, not just for people in America, but throughout the whole world," Kanter said.

Kanter recently joked on Instagram that he should have "Erdogan Sucks" on the back of his jersey, but the 28-year-old wants his message to extend beyond his homeland.

"If you look at what's going on in the world right now, lots of countries, lots of people out there need their freedom, and they're fighting for it," Kanter said.

" ... My message to the whole world is, keep fighting for freedom. Keep fighting for justice. Stand for what you believe in and never back down."

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Kanter also has been an advocate for social change in the United States, attending a "Black Lives Matter" rally in Boston last month to protest racial inequality and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd.

The NBA and the NBPA are still ironing out the details of their jersey initiative as the league prepares to resume the 2019-20 season later this month. But it should surprise no one that Kanter already has a plan in place.

Jaylen Brown shares how Kevin Garnett motivated 2017 Celtics with colorful voice memos

Jaylen Brown shares how Kevin Garnett motivated 2017 Celtics with colorful voice memos

Kevin Garnett's impact on the Boston Celtics didn't stop when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets just over seven years ago.

The ex-Celtics big man also is one of the NBA's greatest motivators who continued to check up on his former team after leaving Boston.

Jaylen Brown certainly can attest to that. During an interview with ESPN's Ros Gold-Onwude, Brown explained how KG would send voice memos to the team during the season, often with strongly-worded (and NSFW) messages. 

One of those messages came during Brown's rookie season in 2016-17, when Garnett chewed out the young wing for displaying poor body language.

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"I was at the end of the bench with my head down," Brown said, "and he sent a voice message through my strength coach over the phone like, 'You better pick your mother------- head up!'

"He was cursing me out. He was like, 'You've got to carry yourself a certain way.' So, he told me to pick my head up and fix my body language, right the f--- now."

Brown took KG's colorful message to heart and has blossomed into a confident two-way star for Boston in his fourth season.

The 23-year-old also recalled the poignant voice memo Garnett sent the Celtics during their 2017 first-round playoff matchup with the Bulls. Boston trailed 2-0 to No. 8 seed Chicago and was reeling from the tragic death of Isaiah Thomas' sister, Chyna.

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"He spoke so much life into our team," Brown said. " ... It was probably the most OG message you will ever hear in your entire life. It was dope.

"I remember him saying, 'There's two ways you can go. Either you can go backward or go forward. I feel everybody's emotions. Channel it out there and hit them in the mouth.' "

The Celtics did just that, winning four straight games to win the series and rallying behind Thomas to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, when Garnett's number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters in the near future, remember that his legacy with the Celtics goes far beyond his on-court performance.