Luka Doncic Over Larry Bird Argument Rings Pretty Hollow

Luka Dončić is incredible, but he has a long way to go.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People is a classic headline from The Onion and if a person wanted to they could sub out most high-profile sports pundits tasked with creating 10-15 hours of content per week as the subject. Because the sweet spot is to say something you really believe but also have it be so surprising and thought-provoking that others cannot help but engage with it — even if their contribution is to suggest logging off forever.

So props to Chandler Parsons who got to look into a camera on Thursday's Run It Back and suggest that Luka Dončić is already better than Larry Bird, then sit back and reap the rewards.

There have never been more lines in the water and snapping at things that are obviously bait gets you ensnared so there's some reluctance to dissect the argument. And yet the actual words Parsons and his colleague Lou Williams used were very revealing about what's actually going on here.

First Williams, who said: "Luka Dončić is absolutely in a class with Larry Bird. Larry Bird had better, had people around him, he had champions. Kevin McHales, the Dennis Johnsons, Robert Parrishes, I can go on and on about the supporting cast that Larry Bird had that assisted him in being who he was to to get championships, to create his legacy ... When it's all said and done, if Luka has five, six rings then who do we compare him to?"

Yes, Bird had a fantastic group around him with the dynastic Boston Celtics. But no one would ever ague that he wasn't always carrying the load or that he didn't get the absolute most out of his teammates. We have not seen Dončić do that yet. Not even once. Hell, the Dallas Mavericks may not make it out of the Western Conference finals, let alone prevail in the NBA Finals so he can hoist his first trophy. Just tossing out a hypothetical scenario where Luka wins five or six rings, likely surpassing LeBron James, is wild stuff. If that happens, then sure, the conversation will change but the same thing could be said if we all woke up tomorrow and the sky was green.

Parsons went even further, stating: "Hot take, Luka's already better than Larry Bird was. He doesn't have the résumé, he doesn't have the championship. As a basketball player, Luka Dončić can do everything that Larry Bird did and more."

There's no question that, on aggregate, today's players are more athletic and more skilled. Independent of results, sure, perhaps Luka is better than Larry Bird. Yet there's something really telling about Parsons saying championship (singular). Bird is winning, not 1-0 but 3-0. I'd be very confident that he'll maintain that lead over Luka. If not then, yes, it'll be time to revisit the conversation.

Sports debates are largely meaningless and fun yet it's vexing to see these incredible leaps being taken so flippantly. To fast-forward through a decade or so in a single sentence and create a thought experiment where Dončić is one of the winningest players of all time feels a bit like cheating. Or at the very least, using such a device makes the argument specious and comically reliant on something that probably won't ever happen.

Again, kudos to Parsons. He got reaction, including this post. It just seems like we've all sort of lost the plot if we're going to argue Luka vs. Bird with a straight face. There's a certain, timeless know-it-when-you-see-it that has to be employed to arrive at the conclusion Bird is better than Doncic. Yeah, maybe refracting the light a certain way and dogged devil's advocacy can create a few technicalities but at the end of the day this is one of those situations where one almost has to rely on the casual fan for the answer. And 95 percent of them aren't even going to entertain the debate.

These two played in the NBA so maybe most of us are just ignorant. Ignorance can be bliss, though, and it's a lot less work to arrive at the conclusion that Dončić has a long way to go to even merit better-than-Bird discussion.

Perhaps the right answer requires the least work.

Kyle K