Dr J vs Larry Bird 1 on 1
This is the first 1 on 1 match up of this feature where both guys actually played against each other! Dr J and Larry Bird had a fierce rivalry, with the differences in their styles of game making the conversation as to who was better even more compelling. So who wins when they play 1 on 1? Our panel discusses:
Pick: Larry Bird. Larry is about 3 inches taller than Erving but because of Erving’s leaping ability that might not be any sort of advantage but Career high 42.7% from behind the arc and a career average of 37.6, plus two time member of the 50-40-90 club is hard to argue against. That kind of shooting touch combined with his toughness and clutchness is going to take Bird into the next round. If this game were played on the black top I could see Larry diving for loose balls, people are giving lebron the torch too early. My pick the best small forward of all time.
Pick: Too close. I had to give this some serious reflection . As Great as DR J was in the NBA his prime was actually on the ABA . He was A 21pt 7 reb guy in the NBA. Good numbers but he was a 28pt 12 reb 5ass 2st 2blk guy in the ABA. We all know Larry legend was likely the best or second best player in the league throughout the 80’s ( Magic Johnson). One on one is still a toss up because Birds IQ and court savvy matches Dr J’s athleticism . This is gonna be Rock Paper Scissors or a coin toss. I have Bird rated higher on my all time list at the sf position largely because I didn’t consider the ABA years from the Dr.
Pick: Dr. J. Doctor J vs Larry Bird would be a very close game . These rivals battled each other in the early to mid 80’s in the regular season and playoffs . If I’m not mistaken I think in the regular season Dr.J team won 23 times and Bird 21 and in the playoffs they both had 12 victories each against each other . In 84 they got into a fight on the court in a game which Bird was eating Dr. J alive . If I was starting a team I might take Bird over Dr.J but in a game of 1 on 1 I think Dr.J athletic ability would carry him to a close win. Bird shooting touch and competitive spirit would keep it close and if it was a best of 7 would allow him to take a couple of games. Too bad this game won’t happen , maybe it could erase the memory of seeing the Doctor lose to Kareem when they played 1 on 1 in the early 90’s
Pick: Larry Bird. This was a brutal match-up to pick. At first, I wanted to go with the Doctor simply because of his unbelievable athleticism. It’s easy to associate speed, strength, and explosiveness with good defence. The reality is they are not interconnected (just look at Vince Carter during his Raptor days), and Bird was actually the superior defender. Dr J was never strong in that aspect of his game, and he’s going up against one of the deadliest shooters and scorers in the history of the game. That’s not good. On top of that, Bird was wiley and tenacious. He found a way through his intelligence and will to combat his lack of athleticism. But Dr J had a great will to win too. Irving transformed the game, and really legitimised entertaining play. Before him, basketball was divided into winning and flashy. You couldn’t be both before Dr J came. It would be unfair to compare these two based off what happened when they actually played against each other, because as Edward said, Erving’s best years were in the ABA. But I’m still going to go with Larry Bird here. That jumper, combined with his all-round offensive game, gave the very best defenders fits (Cooper, Pippen, Rodman, etc.). That’s the difference right there.