In his rivalry with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird created a name for himself and a reputation for the NBA.  The two were the spark for the explosion of the NBA as a business.

Photo courtesy of realclearsports.com

Photo courtesy of realclearsports.com

They put the drive in it, the competition.

We weren’t about stats, we were about winning. -Magic Johnson

Bird might not be a graduated IU alum, but the 24 days he toughed out here will forever make him a part of the conversation when it comes to Indiana Basketball.

The transition from a small town to a big university is a tough one, especially at only 17. Bird arrived at Indiana University and was gone just 24 days later. He was homesick, he says.

But what freshman isn’t completely hopeless and drunk less than a month into their college career?

Bird’s trip back home eventually led him to Indiana State University where he had much more success than his short time at IU.

He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1978 and played there for his entire professional career. Though the rule wasn’t actually used on him, the “Larry Bird Exception” was created in 1983 to protect athletes that had been with a team for several years.

The problem was that with salary caps teams didn’t have enough money to resign expensive, veteran athletes. The exception stated that teams were allowed to exceed the salary cap to resign athletes who had been with the same team for at least 3 years.

With the NFL draft approaching, there’s talk about making a “Larry Bird Exception” for the NFL as well.  Teams hate to see some of their most loved and renown players go, but they simply can’t pay for them to stay, especially when they are past their “superstar ability” peak.

It’s still only an idea, but I’ve seen some of my favorite players get released because of this so I’m definitely not opposed to teams stretching their already enormous budgets just a little more.
Larry Bird is still stretching, this time alongside Magic Johnson. Appearing in an AT&T commercial, the two, along with two other former NBA stars, extend their arms for high fives from Beck Bennett who has to do a little stretching himself to reach them.

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