Larry “The Hick From French Lick” Bird
Larry Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named MVP of the league, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year. His career spanned between 1979-1992 and was an All-Star of the league 12 out of the 13 years that he played.
In his playing days, his super-hero like quality was in his defensive anticipation. He had a feel to know where the opposing team’s next move was going to be and would respond accordingly. He wasn’t the fastest, he wasn’t the strongest, but he was one of the smartest, and his knack of anticipation caused many turnovers and frustrated many opponents.
Larry Bird was raised in the humble blue-collar town of French Lick, Indiana. It was his upbringing there that gave him that tough blue-collar work ethic and was the source of his multiple nicknames: “The Hick From French Lick,” “The Great White Hope,” “Larry Legend.”
In the 1980’s the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers featured Larry Bird and his rival Magic Johnson, it made for some very exciting basketball, especially in the NBA Finals.
Some of his career highlights include:
12 time NBA All-Star, 3 NBA Championships with 2 NBA Finals MVP awards. In my opinion his most impressive achievement was winning 3 consecutive MVP awards, 1984-86.
In 1992, Bird played for the U.S.A. in the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. It was the first time Pro-Basketball Players were given the opportunity to represent the U.S., they were nicknamed “The Dream Team” and went on to win the gold.
In 897 career games, he averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 blocks and 6.3 assists per game.
Some really interesting trivia about Larry Bird. He was known as a big-time trash talker on the court which was common in that era, but Larry took it to that next level. He’s written two books, the first an autobiography titled, “Drive: The Story of My Life.” and the second was co-authored with whom else but his on-court rival Magic Johnson titled, “When the Game Was Ours.”
Let us not forget he appeared in three movies as well; “Blue Chips,” “Space Jam” and “Celtic Pride.” And perhaps my favorite, the social media app Twitter and one of its co-founders, Biz Stone, is a life long Celtics fan and the Twitter bird is named Larry in honor of Larry Bird!
ROOKIE CARD OF HALL OF FAMER
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1980-81 Topps, Card #16 (shop eBay)
The sole rookie card of Larry Bird can be found in the 1980-81 Topps set. This is a very unique 264 card set due to the three-player panels that make up the complete set. Card #6 is an amazing card because it depicts not only the rookie card of Larry Bird but also the rookie card of Magic Johnson – the man in the middle, Dr. J is the cherry on top that has all the makings of an iconic card. One thing to note, the hobby doesn’t consider this card complete unless all three panels are intact, so if you come across one don’t separate them!
As of the date of this post graded mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $180-$225; higher-end grades (7-9’s) sell for $320-$3100 and on May 15, 2017, a gem mint 10 sold for $88,988.00!
Happy Collecting, Collectors
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