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Larry Bird's competitive fire wasn't limited to his interactions with NBA players, though. On at least one occasion, a Boston Globe reporter had to (literally) pay the price.
As explained in a transcript of a Globe podcast, former Celtics beat writer Dan Shaughnessy challenged Bird—who was nursing an injury after a fight—to a free throw shooting contest. Despite having "his hand taped like a fist, like a boxing glove almost," Bird started sinking shots with incredible ease.
"He made 6 out of 10, first round. I made 6 out of 10, so we're even. And then the second round, I was rebounding for him, and he said, 'Oh, I've got this figured out.' And he did," Shaughnessy recalled. "He made an adjustment, and he knew. And he made like 8 or 9 out of 10. And of course, I step up, and I'm starting to see $5 bills fly through the air every time I let go, and I was choking, and he beat me by $160. I think it was 88-62 or whatever it was, but I owed him $160."
The following afternoon, Shaughnessy had to pay up. "He totally took the money, stuck it in his sneaker," the reporter remembered. "And, gross, he played with my eight $20 bills in his shoe the whole night and lit up the 76ers."
If it's any consolation, Shaughnessy managed to expense that $160 as "eight $20 lunches with [Celtics center] Robert Parish." He also learned a priceless lesson: don't mess with Larry Bird.