Aug 9, 2011, 3:48 PM EDT
Larry Bird and Chris Mullin were two of the greatest pure shooters the game has ever seen. Bird is in the Hall of Fame, Mullin gets inducted Friday.
They were also both on the original Dream Team for the USA in the 1992 Olympics. This was Mullin at his peak and Larry Bird well past his, but they played the same role on the team — help space the floor as shooters. They took and made more threes than any other two players on that squad (Mullin shot 53.8 percent from three for the Olympics, Bird 33.3 percent).
One day, in a quiet and near-empty Barcelona gym, Bird and Mullin got into a shooting contest: man on man, match the other guy’s shot or you owe him a hundred bucks. Stays even if both guys make it.
“It was just basic shots – jumpers, bank shots, not like the McDonald’s commercial (laughter),” Mullin said. “I got off nice. After a while I had him by … quite a bit.”
Like, how much – a grand?
“More than that. I think I was up like 20 shots. So we’re talkin’ back and forth (Bird was a legendary trash talker), and he starts coming back. I’m thinking, we could go another 30 minutes. Somebody’s gonna win big here.
“Finally, he gets it back to zero,” Mullin said, “and he goes, ‘I’m out.’ Just cut off the game right there.”
What, he didn’t want to take you down?
“Nope. Says to me, ‘I ain’t never lost, and I ain’t … now.’ “