Larry Bird Learned to Trash Talk Playing Against ‘Great Guys’ Who Would ‘Smoke Their Kool Cigarettes and Drink Their Beer’ Between Games


Larry Bird had a reputation for being one of the most polite and respectful players in NBA history, but he learned how to trash talk by playing against “great guys” who would “smoke their Kool cigarettes and drink their beer.” Despite his humility, it was only a matter of time before everyone saw that Larry could be just as aggressive on the court.

Larry Bird was a great basketball player, and he learned to trash talk playing against his opponents. Larry would “smoke their kool cigarettes and drink their beer” between games. Read more in detail here: larry bird net worth.

Larry Bird, a Boston Celtics star, is regarded as one of the best NBA players of all time. His figures are indisputable. He had a game average of 24.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 10.0 rebounds. Bird is a 12-time NBA All-Star, three-time MVP, and three-time NBA Champion.

But it wasn’t simply his skill on the court that made Larry Bird a “Larry Legend.” It was also his infamous trash-talking, which had the same effect on opponents as a well-timed 3-pointer.

Bird’s verbal sparring prowess stems from his days as a child playing pick-up basketball games with an odd bunch near his Indiana birthplace.

Larry Bird’s slam dunks are famous.

Larry Bird was one of the greatest trash-talkers in NBA history, as everyone who knows him knows. In this part of the game, there are legends concerning Bird.

“There isn’t a white person on earth who can defend me,” Bird famously told Charles Barkley, and he had the perfect reply when a 3-point contest adversary attempted to get under his skin. The native of French Lick, Indiana, famously promised and delivered a 60-point game and even trash-talked his own Boston Celtics teammates in practice.

Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, and Gary Payton, all legendary NBA trash-talkers, have tales of getting a lesson from the Celtics master that helped them improve their verbal game.

Where did the “Hick from French Lick” pick up his skills as one of the most lethal pro basketball trash-talkers of all time?

It all started when he was a child, playing pickup games with people who were a decade or more his senior. Bird realized that basketball wasn’t simply about the scoreboard during these contests. It was also about having fun while playing the game by conversing on the court.

When Bird was a youngster, he learned to speak trash while playing against older guys.

Larry Bird discussed his childhood pickup games with Marc J. Spears for (formerly The Undefeated) in a 2019 interview.

“I’ve heard tales about how you used to play pickup basketball with Black guys who worked at a hotel near your house in French Lick, Indiana, when you were a youngster,” Spears said Bird. Bird verified that this was correct, adding that he used to play against these players when he was “9, 10, 11 years old.”

Spears recalled with Bird, who said: 

They’d smoke their Kool cigarettes and drink their beer in between games, but they were lovely men. They were quite kind to me. If someone needed a break when I arrived, they’d toss me in straight away, and I’d remain there for the rest of the day. They were, nevertheless, competent players. They weren’t really impressive. They usually appeared to let me come in and play with them, which I appreciated since I was constantly staring at that bunch of men. They had a strong bond and got along swimmingly. The score didn’t signify much, but there was a lot of chatting and a lot of fun.

Larry Bird on pick-up basketball games for kids

You can see what Bird took away from these games, in addition to a pre-teen Bird holding his own on the floor with players a decade or more older. 

Brid had always believed that being the center of attention on the court was part of the enjoyment. Even after he was beyond his peak and laying on the floor during timeouts, Bird continued to spew trash because that was the pleasure for him. It was all about the basketball connection and friendship. 

Back in the 1960s, he learnt this from the Kool-smoking hotel staff in French Lick.  

Back then, the boys he used to play against were really proud of him. 

Boston Celtics' star rookie Larry Bird during the team's training camp, circa 1979.

Boston Celtics' star rookie Larry Bird during the team's training camp, circa 1979. Bettmann/Contributor | Larry Bird

As you would expect, as much as Larry Bird enjoys sharing tales about the older players he used to play with, the same players had even better memories about playing with a young “Larry Legend.”

Bird recalls coming with one of those former Indiana hotel employees in the late 1980s or early 1990s, who was still working in a hotel at the time. Bird remembers:

What was very cool for me and made me happy was that 30 years ago, I bumped across Slim, who was cooking at one of the hotels we stayed at in Atlanta. And he’d come up to me and ask, ‘Do you remember me?’ And I felt I’d seen that face somewhere before, but I couldn’t place it. He was a year or two older than me. He, on the other hand, expressed his pride in the way I turned out.

As an NBA player, Larry Bird was able to see his old pickup opponents.

Playing a role in the growth of one of the greatest basketball players in history is an incredible claim to fame that Bird’s early pickup game mates must still brag about.

These hotel employees didn’t simply assist Bird in the development of his famous no-look passes and lethal set shots. They assisted Bird in honing his trash-talk, which has given him a legendary status to this day.

Not bad for a bunch of men that simply wanted to relax and shoot some hoops in their spare time.

Basketball Reference provided all stats.

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RELATED: Larry Bird Is Still Angry After Missing Free Throws As A High School Point Guard Decades Later

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