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“Larry Bird made 23, and that too without taking his top off!”: When Michael Jordan acknowledged following the Celtics’ legend in a 3-point shooting contest was a tough task

Arjun Julka

“Michael Jordan has the whole package – can run, jump, block, play defense” Larry Bird revealed how the Bulls GOAT was on a completely different level from the other stars

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was in complete awe of Larry Bird and his incredible 3-point shooting during the 1988 NBA All-Star

Larry Bird was one of the most dominant players in the NBA during the 80s. The Celtics legend was a 3x NBA champion and 2x Finals MVP. Unfortunately, Bird’s prime couldn’t last long due to a back injury, prompting him to retire in 1992.

As Bird’s reign was coming to an end, there was a new sheriff in town by the name of Michael Jordan, who was at the pinnacle of his career when Bird hung up his boots. The two legends shared immense respect for each other, which was on display during the 1988 All-Star weekend in Chicago.

Bird was looking to 3-peat in the three-point shooting contest while MJ was defending his Slam Dunk championship. The 1988 All-Star weekend was a legendary one taking place in Chicago when his Airness was hitting the pinnacle of his career.

Also Read: “I would pick Larry Bird over LeBron James in a draft”: Reggie Miller, how Larry Bird’s style of play could help Lakers guard Russell Westbrook in winning a ring

The 3-point contest would go down till the wire, with Bird emerging as the winner. Jordan, who was a spectator, couldn’t help but marvel at Bird’s sniper-like abilities.

Michael Jordan felt sorry for Larry Bird’s opponents during the 1988 All-Star 3-point contest.

It would not be wrong to say that Larry Bird was one of the first few players to popularize the 3-point shooting. During the time shooting beyond the arc was not considered a necessary tool of a players’ skill-set.

The contest would make its All-Star debut in 1986, with Bird winning it. The 12x All-Star would repeat the following year as well. Thus the 1988 All-Star was a chance for Bird to create history by 3-peating.

Bird would face Dale Ellis in the final round of the contest. Ellis would have the lead, with Bird having two racks left to shoot. The Celtics superstar had to make 9-points with only 10 balls left to shoot. Bird would hit the next consecutive 5 shots making the deficit to 3-points, with 3 balls remaining to shoot.

The 3x MVP would sink his final shot in an iconic way, turning around while the ball was in the air and lifting one finger up to say, it’s over. Jordan, who watching the contest was awestruck by Bird’s marksmanship.

“He didn’t take off his top yet. I’d hate to see when he takes off his top. I tell you, it’s hard to shoot after Bird just made 23.”

Though MJ singing high praises for his opponents was extremely rare, he couldn’t help but take notice of Bird’s ability to make long-range shots.

Also Read: “Scottie Pippen gave me a lot of problems”: Larry Bird elucidates how the Michael Jordan mentee became a demon and the NBA’s best perimeter defender

Jordan would win the Dunk Contest for the consecutive second year and was the All-Star MVP, scoring 40-points. Though the two legends were at complete opposite ends of their journeys, the 1988 All-Star proved to be a great exhibition of their talents.

About the author

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka


Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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