Larry Bird is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NBA history, even though he never won a championship. He has come up with some great moments in his career against rival Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson during their prime years. But there are certain people who would rather not play Larry Bird at all – like when those two legends faced off for the first time.

Larry Bird was a basketball player, and one of the best to ever play. He has many character traits that make him who he is.

With the Boston Celtics of the 1980s, Larry Bird justifiably received a lot of accolades. Bird, a three-time NBA champion and three-time MVP, was the franchise’s face. He had a lot of support as well.

Bird played alongside three future Hall of Famers during two of his three NBA championships: McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson. Those players’ career stats would have been significantly better if they had been on another squad. While all four players were exceptional, McHale was the Celtics’ finest two-way player. Charles Barkley can attest to this.

Kevin McHale was instrumental in transforming the Boston Celtics into an immediate contender.


Kevin-McHale-Celtics-2-1024x735 On April 13, 2016, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, and Danny Ainge, members of the 1986 championship team, were honored at a halftime ceremony. | Getty Images/By Barry Chin/The Boston Globe

McHale joined the Celtics after Red Auerbach, the organization’s president, pulled off one of the biggest deals in franchise history. Auerbach and the Celtics got the first choice in the 1980 NBA Draft prior to the 1980-81 season. He gave the choice to the Golden State Warriors, along with another first-rounder. Parish and the third overall selection in the draft were given to the Celtics in return.

McHale was chosen by the Celtics with that choice. He formed a partnership with Parish and a young Bird. After averaging 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds in his debut NBA season, Bird was named Rookie of the Year. McHale and Parish were important contributors to Boston’s first of three championships in the decade in their first year with the team.

McHale spent the first several years of his career on the bench. He averaged 10.0 points in 20.1 minutes in his debut season.

In 2020, McHale said former colleague Cedric Maxwell on The Cedric Maxwell Podcast, “I’ll say one thing, I tell everyone out there, you and M.L. (Carr) did such a tremendous job with me being a rookie.” “Thank you very much for all of your assistance. It was nice to be with you since you kept things lighthearted and competitive. I was never overawed in any way. You were all better than I was. I was attempting to comprehend what I was doing. You people were quite helpful to me. It was incredible.”

McHale played starter minutes over the following three seasons, albeit mostly coming off the bench. McHale set a career best with 18.4 points per game during the 1983-84 season. He averaged 31.4 minutes per game and was instrumental in the Celtics’ championship victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston has reached the NBA Finals four times in a row since the 1983-84 season.

He made his transition to a full-time starter in the 1984-85 season, starting 31 games. Maxwell was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers for Bill Walton the following season. McHale was named to the starting lineup with Bird and Parish, making perhaps the finest frontcourt in NBA history. In 1986, the Celtics won their third and final title of the decade.

Charles Barkley said that he would prefer to face Bird over McHale. npxwtEY

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On offense, McHale was noted for his low-post maneuvers. He has the ability to score alongside some of the NBA’s finest big men. He had his finest statistical year of his career in 1986-87, averaging 26.1 points and 9.9 rebounds. He had the best field-goal percentage in the league. With his wiry body and lengthy arms, he presented issues defensively.

How excellent was McHale, exactly? Former NBA players, notably Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, have expressed their opinions.

In 2019, Barkley remarked on the Dan Patrick Show, “I despised Kevin McHale because he’s the finest player I’ve ever played against.” “With his long arms and superb maneuvers, he’s the one person who was so much larger than me.” It was tough for me to keep an eye on him. On the other hand, since he was so tall, it was difficult for me to obtain a good photo if I had to face him.

“Larry Bird was not interested in any of this.” On the offensive end, he’s Larry Legend, but not on the defensive end. He was fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. Stopping him was a difficult task. Nobody can stop a great player, but I’d rather to play against him rather than Kevin McHale. Kevin had the finest low-post moves of any power forward to ever play the game, apart from Tim Duncan. It was a lot simpler for me to keep Larry Bird under control.”

Kevin McHale did this to the Pistons 36 years ago today.

22/28 FG 56 PTS 12/13 FT 16 REB 4 AST 3 BLK 12/13 FT 16 REB 4 AST 3 BLK 12/13 FT 16 RE

Only 5 Boston Celtics (Bird, Sam Jones, McHale, Pierce, IT) have ever scored 50. Bird (4) is the only one to do it more than

— (@Ballislife) March 3, 2021

Doc Rivers, who played for the Atlanta Hawks against the Boston Celtics during several tight playoff games, said McHale was the man they dreaded.

“I knew I could lock down Danny (Ainge) during that Atlanta/Boston short stretch we went on, so it wasn’t an issue,” Rivers stated in a YouTube video by YounGala. “We were terrified of Bird and McHale, but especially of McHale.” You knew Bird would be Bird, and we thought Dominique (Wilkins) may outscore him or that you might equal him.

“McHale was a man we couldn’t figure out, and he knew it.”

During McHale’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, former Celtics coach K.C. Jones referred to him as “the greatest pivot player in the history of basketball.”

Bird receives the most of the credit for the Celtics’ success in the 1980s, but McHale was right there with him.

Kevin McHale Says He Only Has One Regret About Clotheslining Kurt Rambis RELATED: Kevin McHale Says He Only Has One Regret About Clotheslining Kurt Rambis

The “larry bird small town” is a famous quote that Larry Bird said when asked about playing in the NBA. The phrase has been used to describe how he was able to dominate the game of basketball despite growing up in a small town.

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