KEY POINTS

  • Michael Jordan rivaled with some of the dirtiest and most physical players in the NBA
  • Jordan described how it was like to play against Larry Bird
  • Jordan played his best game against Bird and the Celtics

Michael Jordan once described how it was like to play against Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

When Jordan entered the NBA in the 80’s, one of the toughest challenges he had was to rival against Bird and the Celtics. Being the most promising player in the league, Jordan learned to cope with the game at the time basketball was all about physicality and dirty plays. Aside from Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Pistons so-called “Bad Boys, “ Jordan considered Bird as one of the dirtiest players in the league.

During a TV guesting interview, MJ revealed how tough it was to play Bird. According to the Bulls star, Bird’s dirty plays “aren’t really cheating” but more of “smart.” Jordan believed that Bird is aware that he doesn’t have the physique and athletic abilities that other players have but still managed to “overcome” all of it in a competitive way, Basketball Network reported.

“Larry is good with playing you kind of slow, but all of a sudden, he will grab you by your pants, get open for a layup, or a three-point play. That is smart. It’s not really cheating, but it’s smart,” Jordan said about Bird.

“He overcomes a lot of the things regarding natural ability that he doesn’t have. He is not the quickest guy, he can’t jump, but he overcomes it really well,” Jordan continued.

The 80’s Boston Celtics weren’t only known for playing physical. Under the leadership of Bird, the C’s went on to become one of the best NBA teams in history. As for Jordan, playing against the Celtics contributed to the development of the player he has become. In fact, MJ once stated that a Celtic player was the only type of player he needed to win championships. Jordan was convinced that former Celtics guard Danny Ainge’s single-minded focus and dedication to the game were all he needed to be "unbeatable."

“I wish I had four Danny Ainge’s as teammates. With his desire and hustle, we’d never lose a game,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s Bulls and Bird’s Celtics battled in the playoffs several times. In 1986, the Celtics were viewed as NBA title contenders and crossed path with the Bulls in the first round. Jordan dropped 63 points in what was considered as the “Greatest Game Ever Played.” After the game, Bird commented on Jordan’s performance and stated his disbelief. “I think he's God disguised as Michael Jordan. I couldn't believe anybody could do that against the Boston Celtics,” Bird said.