The NBA is a title-dominated league. Players need to win championships to be truly considered great, and they need to do it more than once. Every single top ten player has at least a few great championships runs under their belt, and that includes Larry Bird.
Larry bird has three championship rings (1981, 1984, 1986) in his NBA career.
Throughout the following sections, I will analyze the shooter’s career by looking at his achievements and championships. That will show why, despite his up-and-down playoff career, he’s still considered by so many to be a top ten player to ever set foot on an NBA court.
The Importance of Jewelry
Just about every single NBA great has at least a few rings in their collection. Some hall of famers never won the big one, and a select few only got a single title. However, none of those players are ever in the conversation for the top ten of all time.
While on the court achievements and regular seasons awards mattered a lot in the past, their shine dulled over time. The rise of super teams, alongside more focus being brought about from the internet and sports media, has led to a sharp rise in discussions on legacy.
The G.O.A.T debate is back stronger than ever, and every superstar (both past and present) is defined by their titles. One or two Finals wins is respectable, but the real cut-off to be in the all-time conversation starts at three. Luckily for Larry Bird, he got there.
A Quick Start
Bird, like most future hall of famers, came into the league as a top ten draft pick. He was taken sixth overall, and he quickly lived up to that mark. It didn’t take long before he proved to be a strong defender, smart passer, quick shooter, and prolific scorer.
That combination helped propel the Celtics back into the basketball spotlight. They had an incredible squad who rallied around Bird to thrive in both the regular and postseason. In just two years he earned his first ring during the 1981 season.
However, the issue was consistency. Though the strong Celtics team sought to become a dynasty, they just couldn’t get there. Bird had a lot of success early on, but that didn’t translate into consistent rings.
He had a good squad around him, including several future hall of famers. It wasn’t the lack of talent that held him back, it was the fact that some squads were simply better.
The NBA is a dynasty-focused league. That means, for every decade, there’s a team at the top of the pack. There’s a team that challenges that squad as well.
The Warriors vs the Cavs was a matchup that dominated the 2010’s, while the Bulls vs Jazz took over the 1990’s, and the Sixers vs the Celtics was huge in the 60’s. For the 80’s, the classic rivalry was the Lakers against the Celtics.
Larry Bird against Magic Johnson is one of the most classic sports rivalries of all time. Both players are considered top five players, they were good friends, fierce competitors, and largely two sides of the same coin. Even so, it was not as balanced as many think.
Purple, Yellow, and Gold
Unfortunately for Bird, the Lakers proved to be the better team throughout the decade. Magic simply had a superior cast, and that enabled him to snatch up five rings. That didn’t leave too much room for Bird. Even so, the sharpshooter did find ways to win.
Three years after the first title, the 80’s Celtics won their second ring in 1984 and then took home a third in 1986. Bird didn’t get any more after that, as the Lakers and Pistons dominated the end of the decade, but it was an impressive showing that proved his skill.
Bird is one of the best shooters of all time. He also led a team to three rings and largely put the league on notice. While other greats prevented him from getting to the all-exclusive five mark, he’s still one of just one of 94 players to win three or more.
When the dust settled, Bird distanced himself from the pack and took home three championships. The Celtics may have been overshadowed by Magic Johnson’s Lakers, but that doesn’t change the fact that the guard did things few other players have been able to do.
Three rings doesn’t put him into elite territory alone, but the rings mixed with his incredible stats, basketball IQ, and high work ethic create a truly special package. He was a one of a kind player in many respects. His numerous titles are simply icing on an already impressive cake.