This Bird came home again

The Hick from French Lick is one of our most famous Hoosiers


Editor’s note: Indiana turns 200 on Dec. 11, 2016. In celebration of that historic birthday, the Spotlight will feature one famous Hoosier each week leading up to that birthday. The Spotlight will highlight 52 famous Hoosiers leading up to the birthday.

Any list of the best basketball players in history – college, high school or professional – is sure to include Larry Bird.

Nicknamed “the hick from French Lick,” Bird was a standout at Indiana State University before becoming a household basketball name during his playing career with the Boston Celtics.

“Larry epitomizes what Indiana basketball is all about,” BD basketball coach Mark James said. “He’s a player who got the most out of his talent.”

The most out of that talent included multiple NBA MVPs, three NBA championships with the Celtics and now as job as president of the Indiana Pacers.

“You can’t have a discussion about the best player in Indiana history without it including Larry Bird,” James said.

Bird was born in West Baden Springs, Indiana in December 7, 1956. He excelled at basketball at a young age. He attended Springs Valley High School in the nearby town of French Lick and was one of their all-time leading scorers. He then graduated from there in 1974 earning him a basketball scholarship at the University of Indiana.

Bird did not like IU so returned to French Lick and worked as a garbage man for a year before enrolling at Indiana State.

Bird played for Indiana State for three years, and led his team to the NCAA Championship game his senior year. He left Indiana State with many awards and ended up being the fifth-highest scorer according to NCAA history with only three years of playing time.

Bird was the Boston Celtics’ No. 1 draft pick in 1978 signing a $650,000 contract, playing his final year at ISU and then joining the Celtics in ’79. The following year the Celtics gained two more players that created a legendary frontline leading the Celtics to Larry’s first NBA Championship. After being on the Celtics for two years he was already known and he became one of the most driven and “unshakable” players in the NBA.

Bird played 13 seasons with the Celtics leading them to 12 of the 13 NBA playoffs. Bird made the All-Star team 12 times and with 20,000 points over his career how could he not be named MVP three times? The United States sent professional athletes known as the “Dream Team” in the summer of 1992 including Larry Bird himself, and easily won the Olympic gold medal. In 1992, he retired, ranking himself as 29th all-time scorer with 21,791 points in 2012.