In addition to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Bill Russell, Larry Bird is regarded as one of the all-time greats in basketball.
The native of Indiana won three NBA championships, twice received the league MVP award, and scored over 24 points per game throughout his NBA career. Even more records are in his resume.
Even though Larry Bird went on to become one of the best, when he was younger, he had no intention of playing basketball. Although he had different plans for the future, it was clear that he was talented in the game.
Currently, Bird is taking advantage of all that comes with being a retired professional athlete. The 65-year-old has never been one to indulge in luxury spending, despite his renown and legendary reputation throughout the US.
Although not much is known about Bird’s private life, he has been married to his adored wife, Dinah Mattingly, for more than 30 years.
The Bird brothers developed an early interest in athletics. They played a lot of softball and baseball; basketball wasn’t always Bird’s major focus. But he discovered in high school that basketball was the activity in which he excelled.
Larry used to play pick-up basketball with men who worked at a nearby hotel when he was a little child.
“As a young player back then, I would only try to hone my talents, and I participated in local games. These males, though, were older. When you’re 9, 10, or 11, you believe someone who is 20 is elderly. But a few of the guys would come in every day. They were lovely people, Larry recounted in an interview with Landscape, and they would smoke their Kool cigarettes and drink their beer in between games.
The fact that I ran across Slim 30 years ago while he was working as a kitchen at one of the hotels we frequented made me very delighted and made me feel terrific. And he would approach and ask, “Remember me?” I was aware that I had before seen that face, but I couldn’t place it. He had gotten a little older. But he claimed to be really pleased with my development.
He admitted to Sports Illustrated, “I played when I was freezing, my body was aching, and I was so fatigued. I don’t know why, but I just kept playing; I suppose I always wanted to enjoy everything to the fullest.
In French Lick, Larry Bird attended Springs Valley High School. Even though he was one of the team’s tallest players at 6 feet 3 inches, he performed effectively as a guard. Furthermore, despite being regarded as “alright,” he didn’t exhibit any outstanding talents. That quickly changed because he quickly acquired new abilities and, by the start of his senior year, had gained four inches in height.
Larry finished his career with 1,125 points and was selected to the 1974 Indiana All-Star team. As a senior, he averaged 30.6 points and 20.5 rebounds, surpassing all previous scorers at Springs Valley High School.
Larry Bird received a scholarship to Indiana University, where he played for the Indiana Hoosiers, as a result of his outstanding accomplishments. Although he didn’t stay for very long, it was a huge advancement. Bird traveled back to French Lick and left a month later after finding work as a sanitation worker there. It was a terrible tragedy when his father took his own life at the age of 18.
Bird attended Northwood Institute Junior College but was convinced to switch to Indiana State to play basketball. There the story of his incredible basketball career began.
He lacked confidence that he could succeed in the NBA. Larry intended to work in construction instead.
“They hired me to teach special needs students in a high school when I was a student at [Indiana] State, finishing up to obtain my degree. It was difficult. It increased my admiration for those who carry out such tasks, said Bird.
“I assumed that I would end up pouring concrete as a construction worker. Although I didn’t do well in shop class, I have experience with construction. I simply wanted to be the best player on my high school team when it came to basketball.
Bird averaged 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.6 steals per game at Indiana State. It helped the squad reach the NCAA Tournament final and the No. 1 position in the US. Unfortunately, they were defeated by Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team there. Of course, that wasn’t the first time Bird and Magic would cross paths throughout the course of their careers.
The Boston Celtics selected Larry with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft. He made the decision to stay in Indiana for his final year rather than join the storied NBA team while still a junior.
It became clear right away that NBA scouts weren’t the only ones who had noticed how great Bird was.
No, it was at this point that Larry started to accept the truth about his abilities.
“Once I graduated from college, I entered the professional ranks. How is he going to do? He won’t be quick enough, won’t be able to rebound, or won’t be able to execute his jump shot in the pros. Bird remembered.
“And I believe it took me about three days after rookie camp to realize this league is worthless. I could play in this league, and I’d be the best player there.
Larry debuted in the NBA during the 1979–1980 campaign. Three years later, Bird won his first championship, and the Indiana native went on to win the League MVP award for the following three seasons, from 1984 to 1986.
Larry vowed to “dominate the NBA,” and he succeeded in doing so. He was a member of the All-NBA First Team nine times, was an NBA Finals MVP twice, and was an All-Star a total of 12 times. Most importantly, though, he assisted in raising interest in basketball and the NBA to a whole new level, working alongside players like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
The 1980s Celtics-Bulls rivalry grew to be legendary and is still spoken about today. However, in actuality, it was mostly a showdown between Jordan and Bird, a turning point in history as the torch was passed from one great to another. Michael Jordan himself said that Larry was one of the best trash talkers in the game.
“Larry Bird is the best mind-gamer and trash-talker of all time. Jordan once remarked, “He taught me all I know about going inside people’s thoughts.
But even then, Bird wasn’t certain that playing basketball was his true calling.
According to sources, Bird earned almost $24 million over his career. His current net worth is about $75 million.
But despite the fact that it may be expected that a celebrity would live a lavish lifestyle and spend money every day, Larry didn’t do it at all. He apparently never spent much money on pricey watches, vehicles, or other opulent items since he never forgot his origins or where he came from.
“When I’m back in Boston, all I want to do is go out to eat, pay my money, and leave. I don’t have those issues in French Lick, which is why I return there. The same applies to luxury vehicles like Mercedes and other similar models, Bird said.
“I just can’t understand investing $50,000 or $60,000 in a car when our childhood home was only worth $10,000. And I never really found anything appealing about clothes. I always wore whatever made me feel cozy. If I receive anything for nothing, I’ll wear just about anything.
Bird once said, “My personal life is nobody’s business.” Additionally, it isn’t intriguing.
Larry Bird married Janet Condra for the first time in 1975. They were only married for a year, but they later got along again and had Corrie Bird as a child.
In the midst of his illustrious career, Larry married Dinah Mattingly in 1989. But, as Bird told reporters, his personal life was distinct from his existence as an NBA star, and even after they got married, Bird maintained it a closely-guarded secret.
The Kokomo Tribune reported in 1989 that Bird had wed “a former Indianapolis woman.” In contrast, the wedding event was not at all of a show.
The couple reportedly got married at Max Gibson’s house, which is part of the Larry Bird’s Boston Connection hotel and restaurant complex in Terre Haute.
With the exception of Gibson, his wife Jackie, and the judge from the Superior Court who officiated the marriage, Bird and Mattingly enjoyed dinner alone after the wedding without the presence of any friends or family. After supper, the pair left for Boston.
The couple adopted two children, Connor and Mariah, not long after getting married.
The marriage of Bird and Mattingly is not well known. The pair apparently met in high school and attended Indiana State University together. They later fell in love and are still married happily today. She accompanied him to his first match as a rookie at Camp Millbrook in 1979, and they remained together throughout his entire career.
Larry and Dinah’s marriage saw ups and downs, just like any other. According to Peter May’s book The Big Three, Bird even sent his wife back to their house in Indiana when he was about to retire because he thought she would have a hard time getting over it.
One year prior, she had wished for him to retire because of his injury. Dinah reportedly broke down in tears while having her hair done back in Indiana when he announced his resignation.
After his playing career was ended, Larry moved on to become the coach of the Indiana Pacers. In 1998 and 1999, he guided his group to the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the championship game the next season.
As of right now, Bird is not actively involved in basketball. However, the 64-year-old basketball great is always welcome to return, according to Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations for the Pacers.
“We know where to look whenever we need assistance. He is constantly accessible, according to Pritchard.