Celtics Veteran On How They Disrespected Rookie Larry Bird: “I Think That You Would Say Most Black Players At The Time Were Racist”

Celtics Veteran On How They Disrespected Rookie Larry Bird: “I Think That You Would Say Most Black Players At The Time Were Racist”

Larry Bird came into the NBA as one of the best players in the league in 1979, winning Rookie of the Year before having one of the greatest careers of all time. Bird came into a predominantly Black league and managed to not only hang in with them but beat many of them. He came into the league with that hype, prompting Cedric Maxwell and other Celtics veterans to try and teach a rookie Bird a lesson. 

Maxwell told the story of Bird’s first practice with the Celtics, admitting that Black players were being ‘racist’ because they didn’t think a White player could outplay them. But Bird proved them wrong.

Cedric Maxwell: “I think that you would say most Black players at the time were racists in the sense that we didn’t think you could find any White guys that could play better than a Black guy.”

Larry Bird: “First day of camp, them guys were on the floor stretching and saying, ‘Here comes the White savior’. I sort of enjoyed it because I knew I was going to battle them all day.” 

Cedric Maxwell: “I thought he’s slow and can’t get off a shot. He’s not that strong, this is gonna be a layup. Bam, knocks out a jump shot. Maybe that was luck. Gets the ball again. Bam, knocks down another jump shot. Now I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I’m finna D this guy up’. 20 feet away, Bam. 25 feet away, bam. My mind just goes, ‘Damn this white boy can play well!'”

In his rookie season, Larry Bird was already the best player on the Celtics, averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks. He literally proved wrong every Celtics veteran who doubted him when he joined the team.

Bird is still considered the greatest White player to enter the league, though many White European players are coming for his throne with their level of play. Nowadays, it’s considered foolish to discount anyone on the court because of the color of their skin. Getting buckets is all that matters and Bird broke many racial barriers by being one of the greatest ever to touch a basketball.

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