Do you want to know the biggest reason Larry Bird never left the Boston Celtics in his prime?
Free agency as we understand it didn’t exist until 1988, that was after Bird had won his MVPs and titles. Before 1988, even if a player's contract was up, he could only leave his team if they let him and the team signing them sent the team compensation (more of a trade than free agency). Good teams didn’t have to let their best players leave, so they didn’t. We’ll never know how Bird (or Magic or any superstar pre-Jordan) would have handled true free agency as it exists today.
Of course, that’s not how Bird remembers it. No doubt he’s as competitive as anyone who ever played the game, and in speaking with on SiriusXM NBA Radio Bird compared his era with this one and what Kevin Durant did in free agency.
“Well, it’s hard, Mark, because when these players get together and go play it just makes them a lot stronger. But that’s why we have free agency. If they stay within the rules I have no problem with it and I’m happy for them but you like to be on a team where you can be competitive. I know back in the day I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson. I’d rather try to beat him.
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