There's no doubt that Larry Bird is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Bird was the leader of the Boston Celtics during their stretch in the 1980s that yielded three championships, and while there were a lot of great players in the league during this time, you can make an argument that Bird was the best of the bunch. The legendary status of Bird is well-known by fans and players alike at this point, but according to Rod Strickland, he was actually happy to get trash-talked by Bird early on in his career.
Strickland was only in the NBA for the final three seasons of Bird's NBA career, and with Bird struggling with injuries, the two didn't meet up very often. Given how Bird has been in the league for ten years at this point, players who idolized Bird growing up were making it to the NBA and facing off against him, with Strickland being one such guy. Strickland didn't match up against Bird much, but he recalled a hilarious story from one of their meetings that shows just how revered Bird was by the NBA community.
"I wasn't around long because he was hurt when I was playing that first year, second year, but I just remember one quick thing. We were playing against them, and I think I stole the ball from him, and I just remember him turning around and saying, 'You little piece of s***.' To me, that was Larry Bird. And I was so happy because Larry Bird told me 'You a little piece of s***', because I idolized Larry Bird." - Rod Strickland, Inside The NBA
There's no shortage of Bird trash-talk stories from his career, but Strickland might be one of the only guys who walked away from such an encounter with Bird and was happy to have been on the receiving end of such comments. That is just a simple comment from Bird compared to some of his more legendary trash-talk stories, but it's safe to say it had a massive impact on a young Strickland who was only just getting his start in the league.
Strickland would go on to have a solid career throughout the 90s as one of the NBA's top playmaking point guards, but it appears as if a simple interaction with Bird early on in his career has managed to stick with him for quite some time. Not many players would remember such a small incident from early in their career, but anything Bird did during the peak of his powers was notable, and Strickland's story here manages to show that in perfect detail.