Larry Bird talks about his Olympic memories, on and off the field – Sentinel and Enterprise
When Celtics legend and NBA Hall of Fame member Larry Bird looks back on the Olympics of years gone by, it’s not his moment of glory as co-captain of the 1992 Dream Team. which comes to mind first.
Rather, they are intimate and powerful moments shared between father and son.
“I always watched the Olympics with my dad and even though I was very young – five or six – I will always remember the way my dad stood up with his hand over his heart every time ‘The Star-Spangled Banner ‘was played when the United States won a medal in an event, “Bird told the Boston Herald.” (My father) was bursting with pride. “
Bird, who lost his father to suicide in 1975, still links his Olympic viewing to this powerful memory.
He also always makes watching the Summer Olympics a must-see event, with its own traditions, memories and the athletes and teams to which it takes root.
In other words, as the Olympic weeks approach, he is one of us, with just a little more direct connection.
Bird says he’s been an Olympic fan his entire life.
“I idolized each of the Olympians,” he said.
A particular favorite was Brazilian international champion and Olympian Oscar Schmidt, who is often referred to as “Larry Bird of Brazil”.
Bird said he followed Schmidt’s remarkable Olympic career. Five-time Olympian, Schmidt is the all-time leading scorer in Olympic history with more than 1,000 points.
“I followed his entire career and I had hoped he would play in the NBA so that I could compete with him or with him,” Bird said. “He had a great career. “
They never officially clashed, but their lives crossed paths, Bird said.
“I was so honored when (he) asked me to present him when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Bird said.
Schmidt was retired when Bird arrived as co-captain, with Magic Johnson, of the “Dream Team” at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
This experience, said Bird, is a highlight of his rich career.
“When I took my first steps on the court, I said to myself: ‘I made it, I’m really here, I’m playing at the Olympics’,” he recalls, still a little amazed.
“It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. It has been such an honor to represent my country and to be the co-captain of the team with Magic, ”he said.
Joining forces with players he had fought fiercely while admiring on the NBA courts added to the experience, he said.
“It was a real pleasure to have as teammates all the great players that I have had to play against during all these years,” he said.
And of course, the results added to the thrill.
“To be able to win the gold medal with them was just amazing,” he said.
This moment brought him back to that vivid memory of his father.
“Of course when we won the gold medal and heard ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ played I thought of my dad with his hand over his heart and knew he would be so proud “, did he declare.
While most of his time in 1992 games was spent winning, Bird said he found time to compete in other competitions, including three or four baseball games.
“I played baseball a lot growing up and still love the game,” he said.
Little known fact: Bird played baseball for Indiana State the year between his draft by the Celtics and coming to Boston to play. He hit 0.500.
This year, Bird will do what he always does on Olympic time: watch a lot of basketball.
“I usually watch the Olympics on my own, I really like to focus on each sport and I especially like watching the records broken,” he said. “The Olympians keep working harder and getting stronger and faster, I also love watching swimming and track and field events. “
This year, however, Bird is adding a new tradition to his Olympic year, one that honors his father, helps his community, and can just get you involved.
Bird will organize an Airbnb online experience, “A Conversation with Larry Legend”, to celebrate the return of the Olympic Games, delayed from 2020 by the pandemic. The experience will be a question-and-answer session on everything related to the Olympics, basketball, culture, and it will share stories from Boston to Barcelona.
Bird’s Experience will be available for booking through Airbnb, as part of its Olympic and Paralympic Online Experiences, offering over 200 activities hosted by the world’s top athletes, including experiences from his 1992 Olympic teammates Patrick Ewing and Scottie Pippen.
All money raised will go to support the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, a comprehensive sports and recreation facility located just outside of Terre Haute, Indiana. Bird helped establish the facility in 1994 to honor the memory of his father Joe as well as the late local businessman Lavern Gibson.
Bird said he would share great stories that you may have heard before, but never directly from him.
“My friend’s family and I started with Gibson-Bird Park to honor our parents and it has since grown into a wonderful family sports center serving the community of Terre Haute with many different programs for children, families and children. older people, too, “he said. “We wanted to create something to support the Terre Haute region where I attended university and to always remember our parents.
“We will share fun stories and they can ask me questions too, looking forward to it,” he said.
Bird expects the American team to put on a good show this Olympic year, but it won’t be as easy as it was in 1992.
“There are so many international players in the NBA now, I love watching them compete for their own country and they make every team so good that it’s hard to pick the contenders,” he said.
“I believe the United States team will do and do very well,” he said.
Bird put the basketball down when he retired and says he now enjoys spending his time for other purposes, including charity events like this.
“I’m having a good time, I have the time to enjoy working outdoors, playing golf, fishing, taking care of various professional and personal projects,” he said.
But don’t think he still doesn’t have game.
“I pretty much gave up basketball when I retired, but I had 20 shots in a row after playing a game a few years ago in my street clothes, so I think I can still play a bit, “he said.
For more information on how to register to chat with Larry Bird for an Olympic chat, go to https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/2727825.