Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are two of the most iconic basketball players in the NBA. Between them, they have nine NBA Championships and fans were lucky enough to see the two great player’s careers overlap. As Jordan was reaching his peak, Bird was winding down, but that still guaranteed some epic battles on the court. Here’s why Jordan vs. Bird is one of the best rivalries in NBA history.
Bird was known for his trash-talking antics on the court, and he didn’t discriminate. If you matched up against him, he was in your ear. Jordan had huge potential, and everyone could see he was already becoming a superstar of the sport. In their first matchup, the basketball world was fascinated to see how Bird would deal with this new talent in Jordan.
Bird was a veteran and knew how to get through games, even against superior opposition thanks to his great equalizer, the trash talk. Things didn’t get off to a good start for Jordan and the Bulls, as they struggled against the wiley Bird, but the tide would soon turn.
As the rivalry began to grow both were paired up to feature in a McDonald’s commercial. Both players faced off against each other, and the first person to miss a shot would have to miss out on eating a Big Mac, while the winner tucked in. As the commercial progressed, the shots began to get more and more ridiculous. The two were getting farther and farther away from the hoop, and they ended up taking shots from the rafters. It started the “Nothing but net” phrase that was heard in all street courts across America.
Video game war
Jordan had really established himself in the league by 1988, so it was time to make his rivalry with Bird virtual. Jordan vs. Bird: One on One was released on the Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, and the NES. Players could choose from either Bird or Jordan as they had to try and outscore their opponents. Jordan’s aerial ability was on display as players could enter a dunking contest with him, or shoot three with Bird.
Facing each other one last time
Bird wasn’t getting any younger, and on Christmas Day in 1991 the Celtics faced off against the Bulls which became the final time the two would face off. The Bulls were beginning to show their dominance in the league, but as the two teams faced off, Bird was turning back the clock.
He was inspiring his Celtics teammates to keep the game close for as long as possible, but eventually, the Bulls overwhelmed them. When Jordan first faced Bird, he was handed a loss, and now the Bulls superstar was returning the favor as the Celtics legend was on his way out of basketball.
Bird retired at the end of the 1991-1992 season, calling a halt to his on-court rivalry with Jordan. They would meet one more time on the court when Bird appeared alongside Jordan in the 1996 animated adventure Space Jam.