“Michael Jordan was easier to guard than Larry Bird!”: When James Worthy revealed why he would much rather face His Airness over the Celtics legend
Lakers legend James Worthy once said he would rather guard Michael Jordan over guarding Larry Bird, adding matchups against the Celtics legend gave him sleepless nights.
When it comes to the greatest ever to do it, the names of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are often thrown out there, and rightfully so. If Larry Legend was integral to the rise of basketball in the 80s, MJ was the main reason the sport become a worldwide obsession. That being said, there were similarities between the duo. Both were some of the best scorers the world had ever seen.
Furthermore, both Bird and MJ were legendary trash talkers, beating their opponents both physically and mentally. However, in their personal matchups in the playoffs, MJ dominated statistically, it was Bird who always come out on top with the Celtics. In fact, the Celtics legend even called Jordan a ‘god’ after a playoff game.
“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there. That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” – Larry Bird
36 years ago today, a 2nd-year MJ did this in a Playoff loss to the Boston Celtics: 63 PTS (22/41 FG, 0/0 3PT), 6 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/YsuglQW0Ci
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 20, 2022
Also Read: “That was god disguised as Michael Jordan”: When Larry Bird could not help but admire Black Jesus’s record breaking performance in the TD Garden
However, Lakers legend James Worthy had the privilege to play against both of them during his time in the league. In an interview, he played who was harder to guard, and his answer might just surprise you.
James Worthy picks Larry Bird over Michael Jordan as the harder player to guard.
James Worthy’s career spanned from 1982 to 1994 and was a lifelong Laker. As a result, a vast majority of his career was spent playing Bird’s Celtics in the 80s, as well as playing Jordan’s Bulls later in his career. In fact, the Lakers legend once revealed who was harder to guard and didn’t even think twice before answering. He goes on to say –
“I would much rather guard Michael Jordan than Larry Bird, because you have to play the game as a thinker when you’re playing [Bird]. You have to get inside his mind. Larry wasn’t quick, he couldn’t jump really high, but there were just some sleepless nights.”
Worthy explained guarding the Celtics legend was similar to playing a chess match. After all, he spent a lot of time guarding Bird during the Lakers-Celtics 80’s rivalry. However, guarding Jordan was no child’s play. In their matchup in the 1991 Finals, MJ destroyed the Lakers. His Airness was unstoppable, averaging 31.2 points and an unusual 11.4 assists per game in that series.
Maybe Worthy is still holding a bit of resentment against His Airness for that beat down. That being said, no one can really argue against Game James for picking Bird instead. There’s really no wrong answer here, to be honest.
Also Read: “Michael Jordan never beat Magic, Bird… Y’all been sold this story!”: When Isiah Thomas further elaborated on why he holds against the GOAT