The Celtics legend and current Pacers president of basketball operations has never been one to mince words, and he's still calling it like he sees it.

DAN PATRICK: The Pacers are going to wear [replicas] of the Hickory uniforms to honor the movie Hoosiers. Will you wear one?

LARRY BIRD: I couldn't fit into any uniform right now.

DP: How small was your high school [Springs Valley High, in French Lick, Ind.]?

LB: One of the smallest in the state. Back in the day we didn't have class basketball. The dream was to be good enough to play against the big schools. That's what we tried to do. But unfortunately I played with a kid who kept missing free throws at the end of the game, and we didn't get there.

DP: You're not over it, are you?

LB: Never. [It was] a big loss. I was at a party about two years ago, and this lady in her 70s looked at my friend and said, "What are you doing here? After missing those free throws back in '74, you shouldn't even show your face."

DP: Could you have gone pro out of high school?

LB: No, I don't think so. When I was 18, it was a little different. Kids [today] are more mature. Their bodies are filled out. They're ready for the challenge. There's no way I could have come out at 18 or 19.

DP: Did you see Shaquille O'Neal and Scottie Pippen arguing about who would win between the all-time Lakers and Bulls?

LB: No, but who really cares? Do people really care about that?

DP: They like to argue about it.

LB: It's according to what era you're from. People from the '80s think that was the best time for basketball.

DP: Why is there a fascination with basketball from that era?

LB: Most of the big stars came out then. I always thought our '86 team.... How can you get any team better than that?

DP: Michael Jordan said he could beat anybody on his Bobcats roster.

LB: [Laughs.] Now?

DP: Yes.

LB: Oh, jeez, c'mon. He'd have to prove that to me. Man, they gotta let this stuff go. That's like you saying you could beat me in one-on-one.

DP: I could score on you.

LB: Anybody can score on me. That's been proven.

DP: If we played to 21, what would the result be?

LB: I'm not playing to 21.

DP: O.K., 10.

LB: I hate to say this, it'd probably be 10--8. Because I'd have to sit down and take a break when you have the ball.

DP: Could you take Jordan right now?

LB: I hate to admit this, but he'd kill me [laughs].

DP: I don't know if I believe that.

LB: I'm 40 pounds more now than when I played. I'm broken down. I really don't care like I used to. I don't have the fight I once had. But it'd be a pretty close game.



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