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Reggie Miller will never forget the first time he crossed paths with the legendary Larry Bird..
Larry Bird undeniably stood tall during the 1980s and early 1990s. He commanded respect and fear from his peers. The legendary forward possessed world-class basketball abilities, an affinity for trash talk, and an unrivaled winning mentality.
In 1987, a rookie named Reggie Miller entered the league and had a chance to meet the man himself. During his rookie season, Miller received both praise and a reality check from Larry Legend himself.
Larry showed class until provoked
Indiana Pacers were playing against the Boston Celtics a few games into the season. Miller found himself basking in the sunshine of high praise from Bird during their first meeting at the Boston Garden. As the Celtics were on the edge of victory, Miller remained near the free-throw line as Larry Bird approached him. Bird unexpectedly encouraged Reggie, saying, "Reggie, keep working on your game. You're gonna be a great player."
A humiliating event would quickly overtake Larry Bird's nod. Later that season, Miller made the rookie mistake of distracting Larry Bird on a free throw attempt. Miller muttered from the sidelines, "Hey! Hey!" in an attempt to break the famed shooter's rhythm. He received a fast and caustic answer.
Bird stopped, locked eyes with the youngster, and said, "You've got to be kidding me. Rook, you gotta be kidding me. Don't you know who I am?"
To make matters worse, Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge laughed in the background.
Birds words came true
Bird's predictions regarding Miller's potential as a great player were on point as Miller became known around the NBA for his deadly shooting and consistency during his 18-year career. Miller proved Bird's prediction correct with an average of slightly over 18 points per game, five All-Star selections, and induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Not to mention, Miller showed his own skill for trash-talking, which Bird most certainly enjoyed.
Eleven years later, Larry Bird was able to praise Miller as his Head Coach. Miller overcame a foot injury to lead the Indiana Pacers against the mighty Chicago Bulls in the 1998 postseason. Larry Bird coached the Pacers' at the time and complimented Miller's constant dedication, saying that he "put everything on the line and stepped up to hit the big shots, but that's just Reggie."
Larry Bird's basketball prowess went beyond shooting and trash-talking. Another aspect of his greatness was his ability to motivate rookies and spot the one with the most significant upside. There was very little Larry Bird couldn't do on the basketball court.
Thank you, from basketballnetwork - WILL STARJACKI