Larry Bird contemplates on playing in the NBA today at his prime while commenting on the toughness that the league has today. He believes that the modern NBA was much better in his era simply because it did not have the complicated issues in the game compared today.
Bird is definitely one of the best shooters in the game. His prowess on hitting long shots from anywhere in the court is much like compared to Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson’s ranges today. But could he possibly play the same way if he did right now?
Bird said that the NBA has gotten lighter today in terms of difficulty and physicality. The overrated use of the three-pointer marked the end of the traditional NBA centres as they were rendered useless over time as three points were eventually better than two.
‘I watch a lot of individual players in college and I watch the NBA. I love the way the NBA is going. I can remember 20 years ago I was worried about small guards’, said Bird. ‘Now I’m worried about the centers. The game changes. I like how they cleaned it up. There is more freedom of movement, and guys can sort of let their game go’.
True enough, there was a lot of spacing in the NBA right now. Bigs are now used to stretch the floor to open up shots for shooters instead of being the focal point in offence.
‘When we played in Boston on the East Coast, it was a grind-out game. But when we got to the West Coast, it was more open. You could show your talents. Guys weren’t holding on to you, grabbing you’, Bird explained. ‘And I think that’s what the NBA is today. It’s a freer game, it’s more open. If you’ve got a number of skills, you’re able to display them every night’.
Bird also explained that he could still keep up with the pace if he even played today. He is confident that he could score the same way he did back in the day.
‘I think we could compete and do really well, but you never know until you’re out there’, Bird said. ‘And I say that because I played against guys that I thought were really good when I came in the league, and after playing against those guys I’d say, “Well, he’s not that good.” And I think that goes back to the thinking when I was younger and I played at a small high school: I’d score a lot of points, get a lot of rebounds, but you don’t play against anybody’.
He also named some of the players that he wanted to watch play in the league today.
‘A lot of them. Obviously, LeBron James. I can’t compare him to anybody because he’s so great, just like Michael Jordan was’, Bird explained. ‘They’re very special, and I don’t know how in hell he stays healthy. But that’s probably one of the great qualities of his game, being able to stay healthy playing that many minutes’.
‘Kevin Durant is special. Kawhi Leonard‘s run last year in the playoffs, unbelievable. I love the game now, I like where it’s at’, he added. ‘I like where it’s going. A lot of people say, “Well, they don’t have to guard, you can’t touch anybody.” Well, yeah, that makes a difference because you can show everybody your skills’.