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Larry Bird says he’d play with LeBron for fun, Kobe to win

Feb 8, 2012, 4:03 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Larry Bird is better at basketball than you. Probably still, but certainly at his peak.

But he thinks like a lot of you out there.

During his podcast with Bill “sports guy” Simmons at Grantland, Bird said this about the two biggest names in the NBA today (transcribed by

“If you want to have fun, like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it’s Kobe. Not that LeBron’s not a winner, just that (Kobe’s) mindset is to go into every practice, every game, to get better,” Bird said.

Bird, about as competitive a guy who ever laced them up, said he would choose Kobe if he had to choose.

I think this kind of sums up the consensus now — it’s not that LeBron isn’t an amazing player, it’s his commitment to winning that is questioned. By everyone. Kobe’s is not, only his shot selection is questioned (including by Bird in the same podcast).

What I still wonder is how the perception of LeBron changes if the Heat win two of the next three titles?

  1. narrabeen23 - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Translation: LeBron is an incredible talent that would be fun on the playground, but this is the NBA and I don’t want a guy whose singular focus isn’t winning.

    In that same discussion, listen to how Bird talked about Bill Laimbeer. Laimbeer was the dirtiest player of all-time, and even though Bird hated him, you can tell he has a profound respect for Laimbeer’s willingness to do whatever it took to win, even piss someone off/injure them.

    Imagine if Laimbeer played in this era…these guys today wouldn’t stop whining and calling Laimbeer a cheater.

    • HitsDingers - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:25 PM

      I think we need to keep perspective here. Bird is comparing LeBron to a HOFer, not White Chocolate J-Will who’d be fun to ball with in the park. It’s pretty accepted that Kobe is the most single-minded winner in the history of the league next to MJ. Saying LeBron doesn’t have the same drive and only that of a mere mortal isn’t that great of a slight.

      And if Laimbeer played in this era, he’d have more double techs than Sheed ever dreamed of.

    • jollyjoker2 - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      yeah, I remember Laimbeer going up to block a guy and when he could get to his height stuck his fingers in the guys eyes. Lebron needs a few more failed finals to get to that point. A couple of those guys in the 80’s new how to compete and get mean. Now, it so much more chummy.

  2. bearsstillsuck - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    And I wonder how the perceptions would change if the bucks won two or three championships, but it’s not going to happen either.

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Look at every single thing written on this site in the last day or so having to do with him. Bird belittles LeBron. Perkins rips him because he tweeted that he liked Blake’s dunk. “LeBron on list of most disliked players”. “LeBron beats Cleveland…yawn”.

    Then read every comment following these posts.

    What exactly did LeBron do again? He thinks too highly of himself? Really? An athlete with a big ego? You’re kidding me. No way a guy who has been treated like royalty since he was 7 years old has a high opinion of himself. Even though the entirte sports-watching population of this country hangs on everything he does, and everything he says, he really should be more humble.

    • southbeachtalent - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      Losing battle. Get used to it.

      LeBron = All that is evil.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:52 PM

        It really is, brother.

        F’em. Every game is awesome. No matter who they play. Every game matters. Most teams have an “us-against-the-world” attitude, but it has never been more true than in the case of the Heat. OUR HEAT, MOTHER F_ER!!!

        Win-or-lose. It’s must-see TV. I can’t watch an NBA game in which the Heat aren’t involved. They’ve renderd the rest of the league unwatchable, unless they’re actually playing the Heat. That’s when they’re playing their best.

        You think Orlando played it’s best game against Indiana a couple nights ago? I wouldn’t know because you couldn’t pay me to watch that game. But I’m guessing, no. Tonight? You know they’re going to bring it. Just like all the others.

        Came up just short last year. Might come up short this year too. Butthere’s no denying it’s been an awesome ride. And it’s going to be awesome next year, and the year after that, and the year after that…….

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        See what I mean about Orlando?

      • berbes - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:06 PM

        why don’t you kids get a room?

  4. cantonbound13 - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Kobe’s clutch & a champion, LeBron is not. Kobe didn’t try to team up with one of the best players & fail. The legends know who are true superstars & who are just hype.

    • blueintown - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      All Kobe has done is team up with the best players and the best coach in the history of the game. He’s won and lost with them. Remember what happened the years following Shaq’s ouster? They sucked. It’s not rocket science. Great players with bad players make bad teams. Great players with good players make decent teams. Great players with other great players make great teams. The Heat have been together one year. How long did Shaq and Kobe play together before winning? What happened Kobe’s first year with Gasol? There’s going to be some pretty dumbfounded knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers come championship time, but they’ll cope with a Miami banner by blaming the ref’s and the large market cheaters and other such nonsense. Have fun with that.

  5. alimoe87 - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Bird, stay out of basketball the game has changed , i hate ex NBA players when they talk about comparison between players now get a LIFE BIRD!!

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:17 AM

      He has been the GM and president of the Pacers for years. He is still around the game.

  6. silvrwrx - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    So birds championship in 86′ with Walton I guess isn’t wining? Kobe vs Lebron? Their different playing styles. No one compares bill Russell to MJ. Either way they’re all great players. Look at lebrons career stats that’s NOT hype that’s results.

  7. chitownmatt - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    “What I still wonder is how the perception of LeBron changes if the Heat win two of the next three titles?”

    Well that would definitely depend on how LBJ played in those imaginary championship series, wouldn’t it?

    If he gave every single thing he had in his heart in a hard fought battle, dislocated a shoulder and kept on playing… of course it would.

    If Miami swept 4-0 and won every game by 10 points, LBJ would be considered just another piece of a store bought championship ring.

    • southbeachtalent - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      “If Miami swept 4-0 and won every game by 10 points, LBJ would be considered just another piece of a store bought championship ring.”

      Whatever helps you sleep at night.

      • sham13ert - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        Awww, Lebron you shouldn’t be responding to post about you on PBT.

  8. redstar504 - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Here is why Kobe, and I can’t believe I am saying this, is an old school player. He isn’t on the court to make friends, he isn’t above getting in a guy’s face, he looks at other players as guys he needs to humiliate not guys he needs to beg to join his squad.

    Look at their in game mannerisms. How many times do you see Kobe laughing? Not many most of the time you see that locked in face where he is only seeing the game and could care less about stuff on the peripheral. It’s why when Kobe’s personal life isn’t going good he can still come out and drop 30 plus points.

    LBJ is out there because it is a game. It’s not him alone it’s all the newer players CP3, Wade, Blake. During the games you see these guys laughing and joking around not just with their teammates but with the other team. They rarely get mad at other “Stars” in-fact the never get mad at other “Stars” they save their anger for their scrub teammates and opponents who, “ain’t on there level”. It’s them having fun. When it isn’t fun because of something in their personal life or a scrub teammate blew an assignment their world falls apart.

    No way is right or wrong it is just 2 ways of looking at the same coin.

  9. thenmoveback - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    So many Haters LOVE to talk about James. Look at yourselves, the guy is one of the best basketball players ever, he isn’t a scum bag or isn’t a “bad” person, he plays hard even if he is playing bad but cuz he hasn’t won a ring everyone bashes him and highlights his flaws. I bet all u haters are perfect at everything in life huh? Find better shit to do with ur life. Hate hate hate

  10. bearsstillsuck - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Only a heat fan can be that delusional.

  11. bozosforall - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Gotta LOVE the fact that Bird picked a LAKER to be his go-to guy. Everywhere, crybaby Boston fans are stewing in their own juices.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      I’m still waiting for that guy who is just sitting there waiting for your negative Boston comments to respond! Yeah, right…

    • goforthanddie - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:17 PM

      I’m sure Boston has some former players that would fit Bird’s needs, they just played in an earlier generation. You don’t dominate for a decade w/o killer instincts.

  12. steelerswin6 - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Lebron baby James choke in game 5

  13. ptseti - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Ummm the Heat will NEVER win a title so there I said it!

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