Bird Watching by Larry Bird with Jackie MacMullan

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Larry Bird

The Life of Larry Bird

Larry Bird was born in French Lick, Indiana on Dec. 7, 1956. He is the son of Georgia Kerns and Claude Joseph. Larry's family struggled financially throughout his childhood. By Bird's sophomore year in high school he was considered one of the best basketball players at Springs Valley High School; where later he became the school's all-time point’s leader. In 1974 Bird enrolled to Indiana University on a basketball scholarship, but he dropped out saying that he was overwhelmed by the school. After, Bird returned home for a short time before he decided to enroll to Indiana State University where Bird led the Sycamores to the NCAA championship game in his senior season. Bird was selected 6th over all in the 1978 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, who he led to three NBA Championships in 1981, 1984, and in 1986. After Birds successful professional basketball career, he took the head coaching job for the Indiana Pacers in 1997. Bird resigned as head coach after the 2000 season, but later returned in 2003 as the Pacers' President of Basketball Operations.
(Information from)"Larry Bird." 25 Nov" 2008 <



The accomplishments of Larry Bird

As a basketball player

*Member of the Basketball Hall of Fame
*Won a gold medal in 1992 at the Olympic games in Barcelona.

  • 3x NBA Champion (1981, 1984, 1986)
  • 3x NBA MVP (1984-1986)
  • 12 time All-Star (1980-1988, 1990-1992)
  • 2x NBA Finals MVP (1984, 1986)
  • 9x All-NBA First Team Selection (1980-1988)
  • 1x All-NBA Second Team Selection (1990)
  • 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team Selection (1982-1984)
  • 1980 NBA Rookie of the Year
  • 1980 NBA All-Rookie Team
  • 1x NBA All-Star Game MVP (1982)
  • 3x NBA Three-Point Shootout winner (1986-1988)
  • NBA's 50 Anniversary All-Time Team
  • 1979 USBWA College Player of the Year

As a Coach

  • Two time Eastern Conference Runner-Up (1998 and 1999)
  • Eastern Conference Champions (2000)
(Information from) Wikipedia. 25 November 2008 <

Quotes from Bird Watching by Larry Bird


"French Lick is a little country town. It's a beautiful place, with lots of hills and trees and winding roads, a very simple town, full of decent, hardworking people. It's the second poorest county in Indiana, but still I think it's beautiful. The people I grew up with don't have a lot. I understand that. I was one of the lucky ones to go out and do my thing, but I love spending time there." (Page 185)


One thing that sets Larry Bird aside as the all time great basketball players is his ability to be grateful and to never forget where he came from. Larry Bird was not given anything throughout his life, but he accomplished many good things through hard work. Although Bird grew up in a small town with little resources, he was able to beat the odds and grow up and make something out of nothing.


"While it's true that Magic and I developed a kind of friendship the day he came to French Lick, and it's true we both always had respect for each other, it's not like we all of a sudden started going on vacation together."



Although Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were rivals throughout their college and professional careers, they both were able to respect one another because of their love for the game of basketball. Larry Bird later goes on to say that he would turn on the television and see Magic telling reporters that the two had lunch and talked, but Bird says he cant remember any other time the ate together besides the time Magic came to French Lick to shoot a commercial. Larry is very strait forward and is not going to lie about his relationship with Johnson and i think this is represented in his character.


"The truth is, I wouldn't have noticed when the game was going on. I was never one to look up and search for people in the stands. It never even occurred to me to do something like that, because I was so focused on the game. It took me ten years before I knew there was a wives' row set aside for all the Celtics spouses. (Page 187)


One attribute that paved Larry Bird's successful career was his ability to rule out his critics and naysayers. Throughout Bird's career he was doubted, as a high school star, college star, and later as a coach in the NBA. Bird was only concerned about what he had to do as a player to get better; not what the media and fans thought of him. Bird was oblivious to his surroundings during a basketball game. He was so focused that he did not even know where his mom would be sitting until the game was over.


"I can't think of a better way to end my career then to play for the United States in the 1992 Olympics. Ever since I was a little kid, I used to love it when the Olympics were on television. I really wish my father would have been around to see that gold medal put around my neck." (Page 23)


Larry Bird's went out like every professional
basketball player dreams, winning the final
game of your career at the Olympic Games, and walking away with a gold medal for your country. Larry's father never got to see his son excel in basketball because in 1975, after Bird's parents got a divorce, his father committed suicide. Although Bird had little support from his family he was able to put his past aside and grow up to be an Olympic Champion.


"I know people are surprised that I did so well coaching. I wasn't surprised. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think I could succeed. The one thing I always felt was that I was a leader, and with the career that I had, it I picked the right team and the right players, they would listen to me. And that's what happened." (Page 271)


Larry Bird was always a very confident leader in the NBA, and when Bird took the coaching job in Indiana he carried his confidence and his ability to lead with him. Bird was able to go against what the media said about his coaching abilities and coached the Pacers to three Eastern Conference Titles and one Eastern Conference Championship.


"On August 18, 1992, I announced my retirement from the Boston Celtics. It was one of the happiest days of my life." (Page 1)


Although Larry Bird was considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time, in 1992 basketball, the sport he loved, was beginning to take its tole on Bird's body. Bird says that retiring was one of his happiest days of his life because he had felt that he had given all that he could give to the sport as a player. I am sure the fact that he had made millions of dollars playing the game he had always enjoyed did not hurt either.


After reading Bird Watching and researching the life of NBA superstar, Larry Bird, I discovered that Bird was more then just a superstar basketball player, he was a leader, mentor, and role model for future generations. Larry bird came from a rough household in a small Indiana city. Although Bird's father was a struggling alcoholic, Larry still found a way to respect and look up to his father. After Bird's parents divorce, Larry's father, still struggling from alcohol abuse and the added pressure of dealing with the divorce, committed suicide. Later when Larry was asked about his Olympic Gold Medal he was quick to reply,"I really wish my father would have been around to see that gold medal put around my neck. I can remember way, way back, always watching the Olympics with my dad. He'd watch that flag go up, and he'd say,"God, that must be a great feeling."(Page 23) Larry's up most respect for his father is not surprising. Every task Bird is presented with he takes it on with respect and the determination to get the job done. Larry Bird borough a new image to professional basketball. He was a white man in a black mans game. Although living in a segregated nation Bird had respect for all basketball players black or white. Larry Bird's main rival throughout his career was Magic Johnson, a black man playing for the L.A. Lakers. Bird has been quoted saying that he always has the up most respect for Magic on and off the basketball court. Bird and Johnson had their differences, and were not the best of friends like portrayed in their Converse commercial, but one thing the two had in common was their love for the game of basketball. With that love came the respect from both Larry and Magic. Unlike Magic, who was lavish, Larry Bird was a simple country boy. Bird, coming from a small town with little money and resources, was not a very flashy or lavish player. Bird was a rare bread coming from the NBA, where now-a-days a players social status and money contract is a first priority for the NBA stars of today. Larry Bird brought to the game of basketball leadership, diversity, and respect toward every challenge in life.


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MacMullan. Bird Watching. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1999.
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By: TS
C period