Bird flies the coop

There's nothing sweeter to a Lakers fan than watching the former Celtic once again denied a career-capping championship.

By Anthony York

Published June 23, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

Once again, Larry Bird leaves the hardwood without the brass ring. For those of us who grew up loving the Lakers in the 1980s -- and therefore hating the Boston Celtics -- there was a certain added pleasure in the events of this week. Not only did the NBA championship return to Los Angeles, but once again, the Lakers ruined Bird's storybook ending to his basketball career.

Bird's career in the NBA finals as a player ended the same way his coaching career did -- on the Lakers' home floor, Game 6 of the NBA Finals, and Bird on the short end. Don't count on me shedding a tear.

Sure, he was a class act on and off the court. And maybe he's a nice guy. He could have given his aorta to a dying baby in Bangladesh for all I care. None of that can trump the fact that he was the NBA equivalent of Richard Nixon for Lakers fans. Hating Larry Bird the basketball figure has always been a full-time job.

"After taking time to think about it, I have decided not to return to the Indiana Pacers or the NBA in any capacity for at least a year," Bird said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Meanwhile, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and, of course, part-owner Magic Johnson ride down Figueroa amid a sea of screaming fans and ticker tape. Ah, how sweet it is.

Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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