Larry Bird challenged Eddie Johnson to a fight inside his hotel room after a physical game

Larry Bird challenged Eddie Johnson to a fight inside his hotel room after a physical game

Former Kansas City and Sacramento Kings scorer Eddie Johnson still vividly remembers how he and Larry Bird almost squared off after a game. According to Johnson, it happened during one of his “hot games,” as he was tremendously having his way against “Larry Legend” when he caught the Boston Celtics star with an elbow in one play.

Eddie said it left Bird‘s eyebrow bleeding, and he knew the future Hall of Famer wouldn’t let it slide. There was some yapping the rest of the game but Johnson revealed that Larry wanted to finish what they started inside his locker room. 

Piggy’ was down to fight the C’s star, but there was no way he was doing it inside Bird’s hotel room, knowing Kevin McHale and Robert Parish might be there to help.

“I knew he was starin’ at me. I knew this was gonna escalate… So the game ends… I’m in there getting dressed, I looked up and Larry went into the locker room. I was like, ‘Oh, boy! This could be ugly… I’m like, I’m gonna fight this fool,'” the 1989 NBA Sixth Man of the Year told Oddball w/ Amin Elhassan and Charlotte Wilder.

He walks over, and he reaches into his pocket… And I see it [hotel room key] in his hand, and he tosses it to me [and said], ‘We could finish this at the hotel.’ I looked at him, I said, ‘Now, hold up, you want me to come over to your hotel room? Imma walk up there, and [Kevin] McHale’s hiding around the corner; Parish is gonna help you,’ I said, ‘No, no. no. We could go somewhere else,'” Johnson added.


Eddie earned Larry’s respect

Rather than shying away from the confrontation, Johnson accepted Bird’s challenge. By doing so, Eddie showed unwavering courage that ultimately earned him the respect of “Larry Legend.”

To his surprise, Johnson said Bird opted not to push through with the bizarre hotel room fight. Instead, Larry appreciated his toughness and decided to leave.

“He looks at me, and he says, ‘Give me my key back.’ And I threw the key back, he says, ‘I like you.’ And he left,” Eddie recalled.

Fights were normal in the 80s

The incident between Bird and Johnson speaks volumes about how intense the NBA was in the 1980s. The physicality of the game often boiled over into heated confrontations, and fights among players were not uncommon.

During that era, fights were seen as a way to establish dominance and a very simple way to distinguish the weak from the tough. And right after their near-fight situation, Larry and Eddie realize that they belong to the same category. 

“Man, you need to retire” – Danny Ainge reveals how Larry Bird’s trash-talking sparked the big fight with Julius Erving

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NBALARRY BIRDBOSTON CELTICSEDDIE JOHNSON

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