Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird was a huge inspiration to countless basketball players, including Kobe Bryant. Despite the fact that he hated playing against Boston and had us in his crosshairs at one point during his career, Bryant couldn’t help but praise Bird for all of the skills he possessed on and off the court.

Kobe Bryant’s hatred of the Celtics could not stop him from praising Larry Bird. In fact, he even said that Larry Bird is the greatest player ever to play the game. Read more in detail here: when did larry bird retire.

Kobe Bryant's Hatred of the Celtics Couldn't Stop Him From Praising Larry Bird

In the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, headed by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, added an epic chapter to the storied rivalry. The several noteworthy encounters bred great rivalry amongst the fan bases. Kobe Bryant, a former Lakers great, was a part of it, but it didn’t stop him from appreciating the former Celtics icon.

The 1980s were dominated by the Lakers and Celtics.

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The advent of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to the Celtics and Lakers, respectively, altered the NBA’s trajectory.

Their fierce competition catapulted the league from a doomsday situation to new heights of popularity. Bird and Johnson teamed to win eight NBA championships in 13 Finals appearances in the 1980s. On the biggest stage, the two Hall of Famers squared off three times, with Johnson winning twice.

The intense rivalry bred animosity between both fan groups, with Kobe Bryant developing a dislike for Bird, but he refused to let it stop him from honoring the former Celtics star.

Despite his disdain towards the Celtics, Kobe Bryant praised Larry Bird.

Despite spending most of his youth in Italy and his adolescent years in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant developed a deep attachment to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Because of his respect for the Showtime Era club headed by Magic Johnson, he harbored a deep resentment towards Bird and the Celtics. Regardless, during an ESPN radio interview in June 2013, Bryant named the French Lick native as one of the game’s five best players, alongside Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The former Lakers player then went above and above to highlight Bird’s brilliance, which he felt had been undervalued.

“I think people have forgotten how terrific Larry Bird was throughout the years,” Bryant told NESN. “He was just ludicrous.” And, like everyone else in L.A., I grew up despising his guts. The man was just money, dude.”

Aside from their animosity for the Celtics, many Lakers fans feel the same way about Bird. The Hall of Famer dominated the league as Boston’s guiding force for most of his career, bringing the team to consistent success.

Bird wasn’t a physically intimidating player, but his all-around game, along with his basketball IQ and clutch performance, made him an all-time great. Regardless of fan support, his brilliance was apparent, and Bryant was well aware of it.

Larry Bird praised Kobe Bryant’s commitment to the game.

The two all-time greats had a great deal of mutual respect.

Bird remained a popular presence in the game after retiring, even spending a few seasons as the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. He subsequently went to a front-office position with the company, where he developed a tremendous admiration for Lakers player Kobe Bryant.

Bird said in a 2012 interview with’s Bill Simmons on “The B.S. Report” that he would have wanted to play a season alongside Bryant.

“Well, most likely Kobe, because… well, of course he wouldn’t have been shooting as often as he does today… But his want to win, his determination, and his desire to continually improve, um, and he’s just tough,” Bird told ESPN. “He’s simply a hardy feline.”

“However, if you want to have a good time, play with LeBron, like I did with Bill Walton.” It might have been more fun to play alongside LeBron, but Kobe is the man to beat if you want to win, win, win. Not because LeBron isn’t a winner; it’s simply that [Kobe’s] objective is to improve at every practice and game.”

Bryant had the mindset and attitude to the game that Bird liked so much.

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Larry Bird made $24 million throughout his NBA career, but he said he was perfectly content with’some Coke, some Beer, something to eat, and a nice place to live.’

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Frequently Asked Questions

What did Larry Bird say about Kobe Bryant?

Who was Kobe Bryants closest friends?

A: Kobe Bryants closest friends were Shaquille ONeal and Karl Malone.

What does Michael Jordan think of Larry Bird?

A: Michael Jordan has not commented on Larry Bird yet.

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