As a racist, I hated Larry Bird.
As a long-time Julius Erving fan, Bird’s white ass was an affront to everything I believed in.
It was already understood that Blacks were better at basketball, so for this white boy to emerge, backed by nothing but white hype, then proceed to win The Chip in only his second year, signaling that not only Magic Johnson, who’d won it during his and Bird’s rookie season the year before, but also he himself would be standard bearers of the new era in basketball they were ushering in was too much to take.
Never mind that Bird won the thing another two times. When Dennis Rodman called the boy “very overrated” due to his race, I was first to agree.
Meanwhile, I loved Allen Iverson.
I’ve never seen anybody play with such a combination of passion and talent.
He had another gear, this kid. And if you were on your heels to start, he’d go from being in front of you to being behind you before you ever realized.
24 years after Bird’s retirement and I miss the dude. He was, quite simply, the best small forward to ever play. He wouldn’t have been able to check LeBron because he was such a bad defender that he couldn’t have stopped himself from talking by closing his mouth, but he would have toasted LeBron, and anyone else in the world, on the other end.
The one time he got into a fistfight with my fave, the great Dr. J, it was because he wasn’t satisfied about having simply lit up Doc for 42 to Doc’s 6 – in the third quarter no less – bit also had to talk shit about it.
Doc want having that and haymakers flew.
Conversely, I don’t miss Iverson.
I’m glad he retired.
It had become a sad spectacle to watch him become a journeyman, bouncing around from team to team, his infamous lack of respect for good practice habits having finally caught up with him, and him being exposed as little more than a lightening fast scorerer.
Iverson never won The Chip and if you can defend Iverson on anything, it’s that he really never played with another Hall of Famer.
Then again, if wins are team efforts then there could also be an argument that Hall of Fame careers are at least, on some level, reciprocal efforts.
And this brings me to my point: the sadistic anarchist in me is actually hoping that Donald Trump wins the 2016 Presidential election.
Then his supporters will see firsthand that all that talk of building walls and mass deportations was just lightening fast scoring.
I mean, even at the height – or would it have been the depth? – of my racism, I would have killed to have had Bird on my beloved Knicks.
I loved my team far more than I hated that white skin of his. And it’s now that I love even basketball more than the remnants of my own racism, that I’m able to appreciate and miss the guy.
Similarly, I’m sure there are some misguided Trump fans out there, caught up in the hype and the hair – notice that Iverson parallel? – that won’t realize until Obama’s out of office and Trump is ruining America how much they love their country more than their own racism.
But like me becoming a Bird Stan, it’ll be too late by then.