Right after Michael Jordan and Larry Bird’s first-ever meeting in the league, despite blowing out MJ’s Bulls by 25 points, the Celtics legend had some high praises for the then-21-year-old rookie.
Michael Jordan is easily one of the greatest players the league has ever witnessed. Apart from being one of the most impactful players, Mike was considered a basketball god. Till today, fans rave about his insane gameplay and achievements.
It was because of Michael that the Chicago Bulls franchise is one of the greatest dynasties in history. Of course, with the help from stars like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, MJ helped the Bulls be the most dominant team in the 1990s. Winning two successful three-peats, finishing a season with a flawless 72-10 record, there was virtually nothing that the Bulls hadn’t achieved because of their leader.
With 14 All-Star appearances, 10 Scoring titles, 11 All-NBA selections, 6 NBA championships, 6 Finals MVP and 5 league MVPs under his belt, MJ has one of the most decorated resumes in NBA history to rightfully claim the GOAT title.
“There ain’t nothing Michael Jordan can’t do”: Larry Bird praises MJ after their first meeting
It didn’t take Mike long enough to dominate the league when he stepped on the hardwood. In fact, in only his first season, as a young 21-year-old, His Airness torched the league night in and night out, averaging an incredible 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists.
Larry Bird was one of the many legends who the 21-year-old young kid dropped buckets on at will. In their first-ever duel in the league, Jordan, playing only his 10th NBA game, went on a scoring rampage. In only 33 minutes of action, His Airness erupted for an incredible 27-point performance, to go along with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Despite an outstanding outing, it was Bird who had the last laugh recording a 14-point and 17-rebounds double-double helping the Celtics clinch a huge 25-point win.
Mike might’ve lost the third game of his rookie season that night, but he did manage to win the Boston legend’s respect. Right after their first encounter, Bird had some high praises for a young MJ. Larry told Bob Verdi of Chicago Tribune:
“I’ve never seen one player turn a team around like that. All the Bulls have become better because of him…. Pretty soon this place will be packed every night….They’ll pay just to watch Jordan. He’s the best. Even at this stage in his career, he’s doing more than I ever did. I couldn’t do what he does as a rookie.”
There was even a particular play where Michael was able to display his outrageous athleticism, leaving Larry in awe.
“Heck, there was one drive tonight. He had the ball up in his right hand, then he took it down. Then he brought it back up. I got a hand on it, fouled him, and he still scored. All the while, he’s in the air.”
“You have to play this game to know how difficult that is. You see that and say, ‘Well, what the heck can you do?’ I’d seen a little of him before and wasn’t that impressed. I mean, I thought he’d be good, but not this good. Ain’t nothing he can’t do. That’s good for this franchise, good for the league.”