“Larry Bird was showing me it was all business now”: Michael Jordan revealed how Larry Legend showed him his place in his rookie season

Achyuth Jayagopal
|Published January 11, 2023

The “passing of the torch” between eras in the NBA is an event awaited by most NBA fans. The superstars of an era wane into retirement as the next generation takes centerstage – a natural progression in the sport. In the 1980s, two names overlapped while marking a transition between two eras. Larry Bird and his Celtics dominated the early 1980s and left the stage for Michael Jordan and his Bulls to take over the 1990s.

And during the period their careers overlapped in the NBA, things were definitely not all too friendly. An incident from the summer of 1984 as described by MJ himself, proved the uncomfortable nature of their relationship at the time.

Also read: “Larry Bird Can’t Jump and He’s Not Quick!”: When Michael Jordan Paid Celtics Legend the Highest Respect in 1987

Bird was the top dog in the NBA, while Jordan was expected to be the “next big thing” in the league. And when chance left them facing each other prior to their NBA duels, the Celtics star decided to show the rookie who’s boss.

Larry Bird snubbed a young Jordan who was just chasing after a ball in the Summer of 1984

In the summer before his rookie year, MJ was making quite some noise in the NBA community. As a young, fiery super athlete coming out of North Carolina, the hype surrounding MJ was at an all-time high.

As an Olympian, Jordan got the opportunity to match up against a set of pros too. And it seemed that the competition appeared to be a breeze for the young phenom. His Airness was dominating pros in exhibition games and word had gotten around in the league.

So, when a cluster of stars along with the Olympians turned up at Indianapolis, a face-off with Larry Bird followed. Not a face-off on the court where they dueled it out, however.

While a pre-game warmup was taking place, a young MJ ended up chasing a ball that rolled over to where the pros were huddled. Bird picked up the ball and kicked it back over Jordan’s head.

To Jordan, this meant war. “Bird was showing me it was all business now, and I was beneath him. I didn’t forget” revealed MJ on how he felt at Bird’s treatment of him. Maybe this was the image that drove Jordan possessed to drop 63 on Larry Legend and his Celtics a couple of years later.

Michael Jordan’s post-season career high came against Bird and the Celtics

During the 1985-86 NBA Playoffs, Michael Jordan erupted for 63 points against Bird and his Celtics. The Great Hick of the Lick and his contenders stood no chance against the ballistic Bulls guard.

Game 2 of the first round of the Playoffs at the Boston Garden was the occasion for Jordan’s magical night. Jordan’s performance was so good that it prompted the same Larry Bird who taunted him a couple of years ago to compare him to God almighty himself.

“He’s the most exciting, awesome player in the game today. I think it’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan” described Bird of MJ’s heroics. While the game still ended in a loss, MJ’s performance was one for the history books.

Six championships may have followed, but the 63-point outing was special regardless. One might even call it MJ’s statement of intent to the NBA community.

Also read: WATCH: 2 Minutes of Michael Jordan Making Basketball’s Toughest Moves Look Criminally Easy

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About the author

Achyuth Jayagopal

Achyuth Jayagopal

Achyuth Jayagopal is a creative writer with The Sportsrush. After previous freelance dabbles in the industry, Achyuth has authored over 300 pieces for TSR. Having followed the game of basketball for a considerable period, he pledges his allegiance to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Beyond speaking his mind on all things basketball, Achyuth is a Sports and Gaming Lawyer who is an ardent Chelsea fan and takes a shine to the culinary world and travelling too.

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