Video from 1986 ASG features rare Larry Bird trash-talk footage originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Larry Bird's NBA trash talk is legendary, but it's also known almost exclusively through word of mouth.
Because Bird played long before the time when networks would mic up star players, most of what we know about the psychological warfare he employed comes from the recall of vanquished opponents -- whether it's Xavier McDaniel recounting how Bird told him exactly where he planned to drill a game-winner in his face or Jamal Mashburn shaking his head at the time Rodney Rogers made the mistake of questioning Bird's fading skills before a Dream Team practice.
It would be great to hear real-time audio of Bird talking smack, and it turns out a little bit exists.
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For one half of the 1986 NBA All-Star Game, Bird plied his trade within earshot of the floor mics. This was Bird at the height of his powers, en route to his third straight MVP award, and he plays like it in the East's 139-132 victory, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and seven steals.
Starting at about the 1:15 mark of this Bird-centric highlight reel, we hear him grunt at a bad pass that he saves before drilling a three. Then he flips in a running left-handed hook over Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon while yelling, "Oh, and one!"
And finally he shouts for the ball on the break, catches it in the corner unguarded and decides to torment Olajuwon a little more by hollering, "Bam!" before swishing a 3-pointer over the tardy closeout. He also has something to say to James Worthy in the corner before finding Moses Malone for a dunk, but alas, it's not quite audible.
Even after Bird's playing out of the range of the microphones, it's still worth watching him throw an optical illusion outlet pass to Julius Erving for a dunk or finish with a dipsy-doo on the break.
As for the trash talk, it's not much, but at least it gives us a taste of Bird at his best.