Larry Bird is quite probably the greatest trash talker in NBA history. But this was a lesson that Rodney Rogers had to learn the hard way.
There’s a reason that many Celtics fans often say Bird is the greatest player in franchise history. Bill Russell and his fabled Celtics teams dominated the league more than any sporting dynasty in team sports. But on an individual level, there are few killers in league history who compare to the Hick from French Lick.
This man was the definition of a trash-talking clutch basketball genius. There are countless stories of Bird doing whatever he wanted with his competitors on nights when he was feeling it.
Michael Jordan himself picked the Celtics legend to make a shot for his life. After all, Bird was the class of the NBA when Jordan was with the Tar Heels. Jordan might’ve been playing like God’s incarnate in 1986 and 1987, but he didn’t get a single W against Bird’s Celtics in the playoffs.
Jamal Mashburn recounts an amazing Larry Bird trash talk story on the Knuckleheads podcast
Jamal Mashburn was recently a guest on the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. He gave us 2 hours of amazing throwback NBA stories. Among those tales was that of when he trained with the Dream Team along with other college standouts.
The college team handed the Dream Team their only loss ever recorded in practice or competitive play. In Mashburn’s own words, they were feeling themselves after that win. However, Rodney Rogers committed the cardinal sin of trash-talking Larry Legend.
“Rodney Rogers says something to a group of Dream Team members like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Everybody’s shooting their s***, and Rodney Rogers said ‘Hey Larry, you ain’t hit a jumper since ’84!'”
Larry Bird might have been 35 at that point, but he then put Rogers to the sword in their next run in masterful fashion. In Mashburn’s own words:
“The next day we came in. And I’ve never seen this, this was when I was like ‘This is a different breed.’ Magic Johnson fed Larry Bird the ball probably about 8 times in a row downcourt.”
“Larry Bird got the ball on Rodney Rogers, and every time he was about to make a move, he told him what he was going to do. One dribble pull-up going left, glass – bucket. One dribble going right, spin, shot – bucket.”
“He scored 9 times or 8 times in a row. Left the court to lay down because he couldn’t sit on the bench with his back problems. And said ‘Young fella, look like ’84, huh?'”