Hall of Fame Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird made a name for himself as one of the better non-guard players in the NBA almost as soon as he got to the league. But it is less well known that the Hick From French Lick modeled his game after a teammate who also played outside of the backcourt rotations. Per the Los Angeles Times’ Frederick Waterman, Bird shared Bill Walton was a player he patterned his passing game on.
“We just have to make sure we rest this guy, that we keep him from getting injured,” said Larry Legend on learning Walton was on his way to the Celtics via trade in 1986.
“If we keep him healthy we can win a championship much easier than we could without him,” Bird added. “He’s the best passer I’ve ever seen in my life.”
With the benefit of hindsight, we know Walton would stay mostly healthy, the Celtics would win a title, and that Bird would become the first person to ever win three consecutive Most Valuable Player awards.
Not a bad result for a player some worried might have already played the last high-level basketball of his career before he even arrived in Boston — nor for his new teammates.
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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire