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Bird knew MJ would be GOAT after first time playing him originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Larry Bird didn't wait until the GOAT debate was a fad to stake his flag on the side of Michael Jordan.
The Boston Celtics legend saw that level of greatness in Jordan early. Like, the first time they played each other early, according to Dan Shaughnessy, who covered the Celtics — and, in turn, Bird — for The Boston Globe in the 1980s.
"Jordan came into the league in '85, and the first night Larry played against him — I knew he (Jordan) was good — but Larry said, he said to me, he said, 'That guy is gonna be the greatest player ever, you watch,'" Shaughnessy told Damon Amendolara in an appearance on The DA Show.
"I didn't see it. He (Bird) saw it, he was out there on the floor. I didn't think it was that remarkable, he (Jordan) was a good rookie. And he (Bird) said after the game, he just said, 'You watch.' And I said, 'You're just blowing smoke' — which he never did. But he knew. First night.
If truly the night of Bird and Jordan's first professional meeting, that interaction would have happened on Nov. 15, 1994 in Chicago, the tenth game of Jordan's rookie season. The Celtics beat the Bulls 125-105, but Jordan put up 27 points on 12-for-24 shooting to go with two assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block.
The first round of the 1986 playoffs brought the two Hall-of-Famers' most notorious matchup. In a 135-131 overtime defeat at the old Boston Garden, Jordan, then 23 years old, scored 63 points, a mark that to this day stands as a single-game postseason record. That night, even as the Celtics seized a 2-0 series lead over the Bulls, Bird said of the performance: "It's just God disguised as Michael Jordan."
But based on first impressions, he probably wasn't all that surprised.
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