All basketball fans know that Larry Bird is one of the greatest players in NBA history.
It’s also common knowledge that “The Great White Hope” was one of the cockiest players that ever stepped on the court, but the Bird-story Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins just shared is one of the greatest smack-talking anecdotes I’ve ever heard.
The Hawks travel to Boston on Wednesday to take on the Celtics, which gave Wilkins the perfect opportunity to tell the Boston Herald about an incident that happened during the 1982-1983 NBA season, Wilkins’ rookie campaign. (LOOKING FOR TICKETS? Wed. 2/11/15 Atlanta Hawks @ Boston Celtics, Seats Start At $15)
“One of the first times I ever played against him, I went out for the opening tip and I went to shake his hand. He just stood there and looked at me stone-faced with his hands behind his back,” Wilkins said recently.
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Then we were getting ready for the tip and he says to me, ‘You don’t belong in this league, Homes.’ I couldn’t believe it, but it happened so fast, I didn’t know what to think.
“Then they had the ball and I was on him and he said, ‘I don’t know why they got you guarding me, Homes. You can’t guard me.’ Then, whap, he hit a 3. Then he came down again and said, ‘They made a mistake putting you on me, Homes,’ and he took another 3.”
Getting into the story, Wilkins began to act things out with his facial expressions.
“So now I’m hot,” he said. “I’m hot. I mean, I’m steaming.
“Then a little while later, I came down on a break and he was backpedaling. I just went right after him. I jumped up and he tried to challenge, but I took that right through the rim. He fell and hit the basket support.
“He got up and said, ‘I like you, rookie. You’ve got(guts).’ I was happy for a second, and then he said, ‘But I’m still going for 40 on you tonight.’ ”
He then paused the story, stepped back and smiled.
“But I got him,” Wilkins said. “He only scored 39.”
In case you were wondering, the dunk ‘Nique threw down on Bird was absolutely thunderous.
That’s what makes these guys two of the all-time-greats.