Dennis Rodman says Larry Bird would play in Europe, not NBA, in modern era

Detroit Free Press

Dennis Rodman’s latest hot take is another jab toward Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

During a recent episode of VladTV, DJ Vlad asked Rodman about his thoughts on Gilbert Arenas’ comments that Bird would beat NBA’s all-time scoring champion LeBron James in a one-on-one matchup.

The Worm vehemently disagreed with the three-time All-Star’s claims and said that Bird, a Hall of Famer, wouldn’t even have a job in the NBA if he played today.

“If Larry Bird played in this era, I think he’d be in Europe,” he said. “He’d be somewhere over there. His game was fit for Boston at that time in the ’80s and stuff like that. Today’s world, oh hell no. There’s no way. I’m not downplaying him ’cause he’s a great player at that time, just like I was. But I’m saying, no, there’s no way.”

The Hall of Famer and five-time NBA champion said that a better comparison might be Finals MVP Nikola Jokic, who led the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA championship this season. But Rodman said even then, the modern era stands to be more elite than the one where Bird won three titles in five Finals appearances and was Finals MVP twice.

“I think the kid from Denver is way better than (Bird),” Rodman said. “Oh my God, he’s slow as hell. He plays slow, but that guy got a game. I think he’s better than Larry Bird. In this day and age, yeah. I’m saying he can shoot that three like woosh, my God. So, wow. Compare him to Larry Bird, I think people would pick him.”

Rodman famously criticized Bird during the 1987 Eastern Conference finals when he played on the Detroit Pistons against Bird and the Celtics. After losing the series in seven games, the rookie said Bird was only celebrated because he’s white. Looking back on the comments, Rodman said he didn’t intend to be malicious and appreciates Bird’s accomplishments.

“I was green. I was just saying anything,” he said. “I was frustrated because guess what? I got my ass whooped by this kid. That’s why I probably said something then. Not because I was angry or hatred or something like that. No, it just came out like that. Because I really wasn’t paying attention to the whole league, I was just paying attention to my team and stuff like that, and I was just wondering why is this guy so good? Or what I call it, great.

“I think I woulda said the same thing about if he was Black. I think I would have said the same thing, I would have said something in a different direction, but it so happened to be Larry Bird. I apologized many, many times over. That’s history.”

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