did larry bird smoke cigarettes

Larry Bird was candid about the influence Black men had on him with the way they treated him during his younger days.

Speaking to Andscapes Marc J. Spears, the Boston Celtics superstar explained how he grew up playing pickup basketball with Black men who worked at a hotel near his home in French Lick, Indiana.

“Back then I would just try to develop my skills as a young player, and I got in games around there. But these guys were older. When you’re 9, 10, 11, you see somebody 20, you think they’re old. But it was a number of guys who would show up every day. In between games they’d smoke their Kool cigarettes and drink their beer, but great guys.”

“They treated me very well. When I showed up, if somebody needed a break, they’d throw me right in there and I’d be in there the rest of the day. But they were pretty good players. They really weren’t great by any means. They always seemed to let me get in there and play with them, and I always enjoyed that because I always looked at that group of guys. They had a great kinship, they got along very well. … Score meant very little, but a lot of talking going on, a lot of fun.”

The influence was fairly simple — Bird had fun when he was playing with men well older than he was. Of course, he knew that cigarettes and beer werent ideal fuel for an athlete, but it was the fact that they taught him what it meant to have connections with people. Bird even recalled one of the men who remembered him years later.

“What was really great for me and made me happy is 30 years ago I ran into Slim, who was down in Atlanta out there cooking at one of the hotels we stayed in. And he’d come up and say, ‘Remember me?’ And I knew I’d seen that face before, but I didn’t know where. He was a little bit older. But he said he was so proud of how I turned out.”

Maybe not many expected him to rise meteorically as he did, but they sure were happy to see the young boy who played with them go on to become one of the greatest players in the NBA.

Bird learned to talk trash as a kid playing against grown men

In a 2019 interview with Marc J. Spears for Andscape.com (then The Undefeated), Larry Bird talked about the pickup games he played growing up.

Spears said to Bird that he had “heard stories about how you used to play pickup basketball as a kid in French Lick, Indiana, with Black men who worked at a hotel near your home.” Bird attested to the fact that it was accurate and that he had played against these guys in his “9, 10, 11” years. ”.

Bird reminisced with Spears, saying:

Not only did the preteen Bird manage to compete on the court against players a decade or older, but you can also see what Bird learned from these games.

Brid always insisted that being the center of attention on the court was all part of the fun. Bird continued to talk trash during timeouts even after he was past his prime because, to him, that was the fun part. It was all about the basketball-related kinship and camaraderie.

And it was those Kool-smoking hotel employees in French Lick back in the 1960s that taught him that.

They were certainly pleased to see the little kid who played with them grow up to be one of the best players in the NBA, even though perhaps not many predicted him to soar to such heights.

During my final year at Indiana State, I was assigned to teach special education students in a high school. That was tough. I have a lot more respect for those who do that now,” Bird remarked. “I assumed I would work as a concrete pourer in the construction industry.” Although I struggled with shopping in school, I had experience with construction. In terms of basketball, all I wanted was to lead my high school squad to victory. ”.

“I met Slim thirty years ago, who was cooking at one of the hotels we stayed in while in Atlanta. It was really great for me and made me happy.” And he would approach and ask, “Remember me?” I knew I had seen that face somewhere before, but I couldn’t place it. He was a little bit older. However, he expressed how proud he was of my outcome. “.

Larry Bird was open about the impact that Black men’s treatment of him in his formative years had on him.

The effect was quite straightforward: Bird enjoyed himself when he played with guys much older than himself. Although he was aware that beer and cigarettes weren’t the best fuel for athletes, they still taught him the value of forming relationships with other people. Years later, one of the men who remembered him was even mentioned by Bird.

Larry Bird’s trash talk is legendary

If you know anything about the NBA’s past, you are aware that Larry Bird was a legendary trash talker. Legendary tales surround Bird in this particular area of the game.

Prominent NBA trash talkers like Gary Payton, Michael Jordan, and Reggie Miller all have anecdotes about picking up a verbal skill from the Celtics master.

How did the “Hick from French Lick” become what may be the greatest professional basketball trash-talker of all time?

It all started when he was a young child and used to play pickup games with guys who were at least ten years older than him. Bird discovered during these games that basketball was more than just a scoreboard. Talking on the court was another way to lighten up the game.


Was Stevie Nicks a cigarette smoker?

Stevie Nicks used to smoke three packs a day. Reportedly, she quit. A concert video from around 1980 shows Lindsey Buckingham smoking on stage. Christine McVie quit smoking in the 1980s.

Did Larry Bird have a disease?

Amongst the injuries that Larry Bird had to deal with throughout his 13 seasons in the NBA was a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. The condition bothered Bird often, especially during the off-season in the summer when he used to work out under the hot weather.

Where did Larry Bird go to high?

Bird got his start in a small Indiana town, where he led Springs Valley High School to the state sectional championship. Bird then led Indiana State to the 1979 NCAA national championship game, a watershed moment in basketball history.

Why did Larry Bird have to lay down?

Bird famously played with two injured ankles and a notoriously cranky back that forced him to lay down on the floor during practice breaks.