Larry Bird’s still mad that that high school point guard missed a pair of free throws in a game at Indiana State in the early 1970s.
When it comes to sports, it’s pretty common knowledge that the best players in the world eventually end up playing for the championship, not for the high school team. The same is true of other sports, like basketball, but it’s rare to see it happen in high school. Even more rare is when that player who never made the big time has the last laugh.
In 1996, Larry Bird tried to tell me something. He went to the New Hampshire high school that I went to, which was a couple of years after I graduated, and he wanted me to help his old point guard, Larry Cannon, with his basketball game. I was flattered because Larry was one of the greatest players ever to play the game, and I thought, “Sure. If he needs help I’ll help him.” Larry and me: I was about to become the coach of the Nashua Titans, a team from a town near Boston. I didn’t know much about Cannon, but I was eager to earn the respect of the pro-Bird crowd, so I agreed. The first thing. Read more about how old is larry bird now and let us know what you think.
Larry Bird’s tremendous abilities on the floor helped him become one of the best basketball players of all time. Because of his legendary competitive drive, he became a champion. Bird’s desire to win began as early as his high school years.
In 2015, the Legend showed his competitive spirit by telling radio presenter Dan Patrick that a high school teammate’s missed free throws still upset him 40 years later.
Larry Bird grew up in the small Indiana town of French Lick.
Bird’s most well-known moniker is derived from his hometown. The publicly reserved Indiana native was known as the “Hick from French Lick” during his Boston career.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the all-time great grew up in French Lick, Indiana, a little town with a population of 1,777 people. It’s approximately 100 miles southeast of Indianapolis and 60 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky, in rural Southern Indiana.
In this thinly populated region, Bird grew up impoverished, and the typical family income in French Lick is only $37,377 now. Almost a quarter of the population still lives in poverty.
Bird was able to escape due of his outstanding basketball abilities. The famous Indiana High School Basketball Tournament was the first time a larger audience saw the future superstar. The state-wide tournament, made famous by the film Hoosiers, enabled all schools, including Bird’s little Springs Valley High School, to play against the state’s best.
Bird (and his city) are still enraged over a missed shot by a high school buddy.
Bird worked as an executive for the Indiana Pacers in 2015. He spoke on The Dan Patrick Show to discuss the Pacers’ Hickory High special edition jerseys from the 1986 film.
Bird was asked to explain the “Hoosiers phenomena” to Patrick. Bird began to describe his tournament experience as a young player, but couldn’t help but put his high school buddy under the bus:
We attempted to achieve our goal of becoming excellent enough to play against the major institutions. We attempted to be good enough to play against the Crispus Attucks, Jeffersonville, or New Albany one day, but unfortunately, I was playing alongside a youngster who kept missing free throws at the end of the game, and we didn’t make it.
On The Dan Patrick Show, Larry Bird
The presenter broke out laughing and inquired whether the other teams were using a “Hack-a-Shaq” approach in the 1970s. Bird said, “Well, my point guard became a little anxious, and they knew it, so they began fouling him.” “And we simply weren’t able to make it.”
“Are you sure you’re not over it?” Patrick made an educated assumption. “Never!” Bird was ecstatic. “A loss is a loss, and this was a significant one.”
Bird wasn’t the only one who clung to these emotions throughout the years. People in his town also recalled it:
What’s hilarious is this: I was at a barbeque around two years ago, and this woman in her 70s looked at my buddy and said, “What are you doing here?” ‘Well, I’m coming to the barbecue,’ he says. ‘After missing those free throws back in ’74, you shouldn’t even show your face,’ she says.
On The Dan Patrick Show, Larry Bird
The lesson of this tale is that basketball in French Lick, Indiana is serious business.
Bird remained in the area and attended Indiana State University for college.
Larry Bird | Getty Images via Indiana State/Collegiate Images
Bird finished his senior year as Springs Valley’s all-time top scorer. According to NBA.com, this won him a scholarship to play for Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers, Indiana’s crown jewel.
He did, however, leave after just a month on college in Bloomington. The eventual NBA MVP attended Northwood Institute Junior College before transferring to Indiana State University. Bird’s reputation developed here, at a school that had ended with a 12-14 record the previous two seasons.
In three seasons as a Sycamore, the 6-foot-9 big averaged 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. He guided the small-school team to the county’s No. 1 position and the NCAA Tournament finals in his last year.
Bird and the Sycamores faced a Michigan State squad headed by point guard Ervin “Magic” Johnson in the 1979 NCAA Tournament Final. The Big 10 team dominated the tiny school, winning the National Championship by a score of 75-64.
This would be the first, but definitely not the last, game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. There’s no information on whether Bird still has grudges towards any of his teammates who missed free throws in this game.
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Just how mad is Larry Bird about a high school point guard missing free throws decades later? Here is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, on the verge of winning his first NBA championship, and he is lamenting about a high school kid missing shots, especially when that kid performed well in this year’s NCAA tournament.. Read more about is larry bird still alive 2021 and let us know what you think.
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