NBA legend Larry Bird admitted that he “couldn’t imagine” leaving the Celtics to join the rival LA Lakers in one of these now-common Hall-of-Justice-join-forces scenarios. What does Bird think about Kevin Durant leaving the we-just-almost-won-the-Western-Conference OKC Thunder to join the loaded conference champion Warriors? “I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson. I’d rather try to beat him,” Bird said on SiriusXM’s NBA Radio. In that scenario, the Magic Johnson-led Lakers are today’s Warriors, obviously. (Not the first time the two teams have been compared either.)
Bird’s comment was widely seen as a knock on Durant, like Paul Pierce’s “you can’t beat um join um” comment. But Bird explained further why he wouldn’t have departed Beantown. Bird didn’t need to move to play with great players — he already had them.
“I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”
Steven Adams, great as he’s recently performed, is not Robert Parish, in other words. And Serge Ibaka, late of the Thunder, does not rank with Kevin McHale. Bird was part of the McHale, Parish, himself frontcourt that has had few equals in NBA history. He isn’t knocking Durant with his comment. Bird is just saying that things were different then, both in the NBA and on his Celtics in particular.