“I jumped and Michael Jordan’s knees hit me in the chin” : 6ft 9′ Larry Bird once spoke of Michael Jordan’s freakish athleticism and incredible vertical

Achyuth Jayagopal
|Published January 19, 2023

Michael Jordan is a player who has almost attained mythical status in the NBA these days. Be it regarding his abilities, his competitive spirit, or his incredible athleticism, the tales appear unending.

The “Last Dance” presented Jordan’s laurels to another generation too. And, with this, the MJ hype machine started spinning out of control yet again. Fans, rivals, and teammates came out with their accounts and all tales grabbed considerable traction too.

Also read: “Michael Jordan Was 40, and Was Working Out at 6 a.m.”: When Jamal Crawford Was Blown Away by Bulls Legend’s Desire to Comeback

And, of course, no mention of Michael Jordan’s rivals can go without talking about the evergreen (pun intended) Larry Bird. Naturally, discussions involving one often didn’t go amiss without mention of the other. Stories from each side have often added to the legend surrounding the superstars.

Larry Bird has such a story to tell about Michael Jordan. And particularly, with regard to His Airness’ incredible athleticism.

Larry Bird spoke about how Michael Jordan’s knee almost met him at chin level.

The Celtics legend had quite a few match-ups against the Bulls phenom during their years in the league. As Eastern Conference rivals, match-ups weren’t uncommon and they saw a lot of each other, quite often.

On one instance, Bird almost saw his chin meet Jordan’s knee, mid-air. The Celtics forward used this example to describe his shock upon realizing the extent of His Airness’ incredible athletic gifts.

“I can tell you some things that happened in games against us. One time, I turned, I jumped, and his knees almost hit me in the chin. And that’s when I realized that this guy is pretty special, for his jumping ability. Cat quick. He closed down a passing lane as anybody I’ve ever seen and just a phenomenal player” narrated Bird of how apparent MJ’s athletic gifts were.


While this might not come as news to anyone who has followed Jordan’s career, to hear it from someone as established as Bird is still something. To think that a young Bull incited such excitement even amongst his most accomplished rivals is thrilling to say the least.

Bird clearly was made aware of how special his rival was, at that moment. And it wasn’t to be the first time the forward declared his admiration for his future “Dream Team” mate.

Larry Bird even went on to allude to Michael Jordan as “God”.

If seeing a rival almost have his knee at your chin level wasn’t enough, Bird got to see Michael Jordan’s greatest individual playoff performance from close quarters too. And it was this clinical performance that drew comparisons from Bird to “God” himself.

“I would never have called him the greatest player I’d ever seen if I didn’t mean it. It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan” was how Bird spoke about his rival after his epic performance.

Michael Jordan had just dropped 63 points on Bird’s Celtics in the NBA Playoffs. And it was only fair that Larry Legend felt His Airness’ divinity around him on such a night.

Also read: Michael Jordan Shot 40% in ‘Clutch Time’, Despite Permanent Damage to his Index Finger

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About the author

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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