At Monday night’s 2019 NBA Awards ceremony, both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. They are the first ever pair to win. Past recipients include Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell.
In his acceptance speech, Bird not only spoke of his time on the Celtics, but what he thinks of the current state of the NBA. While the game of basketball may look different today than it did in the 1980s, Bird disagrees with any sentiments that the game is less enjoyable or talented.
“You see these old, broken down NBA players talking about their era, how great they were back then and how the players today are not as good as they were. That’s crazy!”
Bird went on to list LeBron James, Klay Thompson, and James Harden as exemplary players he’s watched. He cited Thompson’s 37-points in one quarter of a 2015 NBA game as especially inspiring.
“It’s just amazing to see how these guys are playing the game,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Bird won NBA three championships with the Boston Celtics during the 1980s, earning two NBA Finals MVP awards. He’s also a three-time NBA MVP, a 12-time NBA All Star, and was a member of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. After time as both a coach and an executive with the Indiana Pacers, he currently serves the team in an advisory role.
Bird ended his speech Monday by saying that the game today is in a “good place.” His advice to the younger generation of players:
“Keep the game the way you found it and it can go on for all generations to come.”