Greatest NBA Player #26: Larry Bird-145.83
It is ironic that Larry Bird played the fewest games of any player on this list. Bird played just 13 seasons and fewer than 900 games, but his impact is hard to understate. He accomplished a lot during that relatively short span, including being a 12-time all-star and one of just three players ever to 3-peat as league MVP.
Bird also famously led the Celtics to five NBA Finals appearances, including several against Magic Johnson and the Lakers. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry dramatically increased the popularity of the NBA, leading to four new teams being added and making Bird and Magic both iconic players. While Magic was known for being flashy, Bird was every bit as skilled. He is considered one of the best all-around players in NBA history.
He was known for his shooting ability, though his 37.9% 3-point percentage doesn’t quite do him justice. He was also a highly skilled playmaker and one of the best rebounding small forwards ever. Bird was even an underrated defender and made three All-Defensive teams.
Frankly, the only reason he isn’t higher on this list is because a serious back injury forced him to retire early. Had he had the same longevity as others on this list, he would possibly be a dozen spots higher, but no matter what, Bird is still a top-10 or top-15 player to most.