When Larry Bird showed up at little Indiana State, he drew attention immediately. You didn’t see 6-9 guys back then who were shooting 30-35 foot jumpers, much less making ridiculous no-look passes.
There was a brief period when he got to the NBA when people thought he was too slow to stick.
That stopped pretty quickly. Bird’s overall mastery of the game was amazing. He was so good that Boston drafted him a year early (Auerbach, legendarily crafty, found a loophole that was soon shut down by the league).
His offensive skills made him an immediate sensation and helped take Boston from 29 wins the year before he arrived to 61 in his rookie season.
In this video, Auerbach talks to Bird about his gift for shooting (as a small point, when he raises his hand to shoot, look at his fingers. It’s amazing he could shoot that well with fingers like that).
The payoff is at the end. It just underscores his supreme confidence in himself, which comes off as oddly humble, and also kind of gives a small insight into his legendary trash talking.