Many sports stars in the world made their debuts in international competitions at the Universiades before they then carried on their glorious career. Larry Bird, a big name in the USA basketball, is a legendary figure who starts his career with Universiades, too. Nicknamed "The Hick from French Lick" and "Larry Legend", Bird is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He is a former coach and executive of Indiana Pacers. He played forward/power forward in team. Few people know that the NBA superstar participated in the 1977 Sofia Universiade in Bulgaria, and led the U.S. team all the way to the gold medal.
Born in West Barton, Indiana, U.S.A, Bird was already a local star player in high school. At college, he led the Indiana State University Figs to the NCAA (National College Athletic Association) League finals with 33 consecutive wins. Unfortunately, the Figs lost the champion to the Michigan State University Spartans led by "Magic" Johnson, but the game was the highest-rated college basketball match of the following 25 years, and Bird was awarded Player of the Season for his outstanding performance. Bird played for the Indiana State University Figs for 3 years, and helped the team achieve an amazing record of 81 wins and only 13 losses.
In 1978, Bird was selected by the Boston Celtics as the 6th candidate in the first round of the NBA Draft. Upon college graduation in 1979, he officially joined the Boston Celtics. Bird has got 3 NBA championships, 3 NBA Regulars Most Valuable Player (MVP) titles and 2 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (FMVP) titles. He was voted to the NBA All-Stars 12 times, and awarded MVP in the 1982 All-Stars.
Looking back at Bird's basketball career, the reasons behind such great achievements in NBA history were not his physical strength, but his superb basketball IQ and teamwork spirit. Bird is 2.06 meters tall, not seeming very strong among other players, but he was an all-around player with high talent. In the 1985 NBA regular season against the Atlanta Hawks, he set a record of 60 points in a single game. On August 18th, 1992, after winning the Barcelona Olympics with the "Dream Team", Bird announced his retirement due to injuries. Later, Bird was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the No. 33 basketball jersey he used to wear was also "retired" from the Celtics.
In 1997, Bird joined his hometown team, the Indiana Pacers, as the coach, and led the team to 54 wins in the first season. He was awarded Coach of the Season. In 2007, Bird was officially appointed Indiana Pacers' president of basketball operations. In 2012 he helped the Indiana Pacers to rank 3rd in the Eastern Conference and was awarded the league's Executive of the Year. He, therefore, became the only person in NBA history to obtain all titles of MVP, FMVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
Many people have spoken highly of Larry Bird. Bob Cousy, another Boston Celtics star, is one of them. Bob praised him that "Bird came to the world to raise the bar for basketball skills." China.com once commented that "In every era, there is a true superstar, and Larry Bird is undoubtedly such a star in his times. Bird is the embodiment of the Boston Celtics' honor. He is an elegant, confident and hardworking player who enjoys challenges under pressure, and at the same time, helps his teammates to do their best. "
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