Monday, June 13, 2011


Steve Sailer reminds me why Larry Bird is considered the greatest passer of all time. Sure I'm biased. If you like Magic better overall you're wrong, but I'm not going to quibble.

Three points stick out.
1. The sheer volume is comment in itself. Lots of NBA players have a few plays like this over the course of their career. Birdie did it all the time.

2. You have to see this with 1980's eyes, when this was new. Bird is not copying anyone here, he's developing the craft. People had started doing this stuff on city playgrounds in the previous decade, but it was unreliable. Tricky passes that bounce off other players' noses aren't useful. No one on the floor had anyone dishing them stuff like this in highschool, or college. Even in the pros, there wasn't much of this in the 1970's. You can watch great passers of the 70's - Walt Frazier, Tiny Archibald, John Havlicek, and you will see some very nice passes - very smart, alert, and even a bit of adventurous passing. You won't see much of this. The over the head or behind the neck stuff especially - blind passing was just unknown.

3. The first one is a beauty. But just when you're getting jaded with so many in-traffic back-tip passes, something will jump out at you, like 4:55 and 6:35.

Here's more Bird, if you want it.


Roy Lofquist said...


I've been watching this game for a while. I watched a Cousy/Mikan match up twice in the old Garden. I saw Bird in his first season in Phoenix. I was sitting under the basket. Saw something amazing - Bird launched a three pointer. He immediately raced to the basket for a rebound score. He knew he had missed and he knew exactly where the rebound was going. I said Yup, he's going to be great.

As to passing, I'd have to go to Steve Nash. He won consecutive MVPs on that alone. Many thought he would three-peat but the sentiment against raising his status to all time great was too strong. He probably could have averaged over 30 pts a game. There were a number of games where the opponents tried to take his passing away. He went right out and scored 40 on them.

Admittedly Bird and Magic were great passers. They never won an MVP based on their passing game.


Texan99 said...

Yikes. Born for it.

I was just watching a Nova show with Oliver Sacks about wild musical talents, including an orthopedic surgeon who'd never been much interested in music until he was struck by lightning - then he became obsessed with learning and playing the piano during every waking hour and composing pieces for it. Something amazing goes on with these geniuses. They showed on MRIs how the brain lights up, but not just for any good piece, only the one that the listener really loves.