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Atlanta Hawks star Dominique Wilkins still remembers his debut game against Larry Bird in 1982. An eager rookie, Wilkins had approached his basketball idol, Larry Bird to shake his hand. However, to his dismay, Wilkins was sent back without one and later demolished during the game. In his recent appearance on VladTV, Dominique Wilkins described his first encounter with the great Boston Celtics legend.
Back in the day, Larry Bird was known for his vicious trash-talk, aside from his brilliance on the court. He could not only dominate his opponents physically but mentally as well. Unfortunately, Dominique Wilkins' first encounter with the Celtics legend did not go as he had planned. He was a victim of Bird's smack talk, which he learned to embrace and respond to over the years.
Dominique Wilkins was victim of Larry Bird's vicious trash talk as a rookie in the league
Anyone growing up in the late '70s and the early '80s was mesmerized by the intense competition between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. And so was Dominique Wilkins, who after completing college, was in awe of facing Larry Bird as a rookie. During his debut game against the Celtics, Wilkins tried shaking hands with Bird, but to his dismay, was sent back. Later in the game, Larry Bird decimated the Hawks with his game prowess and trash talks. Narrating the incident to DJ Vlad, Wilkins said:
"It was shocking, you know. I'm a rookie, and I go up against, you know, we small forwards got guys guarded each other back in. You couldn't duck each other. So I go shake his [Larry Bird] hand, and he put both hands behind his back. And I said, 'Okay, he's getting ready to play.' And first play of the game, he says, 'I don't know where they got you guarding me homes,' and he shoots a three. I was pissed. You know, I said I wasn't mad he hit the three, but did this somebody just called me homes? And it set up for a really interesting game, cause I remember one time I came down and I dunked it on him. He laying on the ground, he fouled me. And I'm pointing. And he said, 'Hey rook!' I said, 'What?' He said, 'I like you, you got balls but I'm still going to get 30 on your a**.'"
Dominique Wilkins gave in his best efforts as a rookie to guard the Celtics legend. However, as Larry Bird himself proclaimed, he ended up scoring 38 points against the Hawks that night. But that didn't mean Dominique Wilkins accepted this defeat with a pinch of salt. He knew as a rookie, he was liable to pay his dues to the veteran. And perhaps, that's what he did, by putting in his best efforts and an incredible show against the great Larry Bird.
Wilkins defends Bird as an all-time great who could play in any era
When Dennis Rodman last appeared on VladTV, he had largely proclaimed Larry Bird to be unfit for today's era of basketball. But Dominique Wilkins wasn't having any of that talk against Larry Bird. Slamming both Dennis Rodman and JJ Redick's previous claims on Larry Bird, Wilkins called their takes idiotic and stupid.
Later justifying his defense of Larry Bird, Wilkins said how Bird played in the most physical era of the NBA. Wilkins dismissed Rodman's claim of Larry Bird shifting to foreign leagues for not being able to last in the NBA. He claimed that with his 6'10" figure, Bird could make an easy competition out of the top players in the league, owing to his physical nature of play. That would have set Larry Bird apart from perhaps, even the best players in the league currently.