BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird was one of six athletes honored at the TD Garden Tuesday night at the New England Sports Museum’s “The Tradition”, presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’m really grateful about it, it’s always good to return back to Boston, and to receive an award is the icing on the cake,” said Bird before the ceremony.
After his playing days ended, Larry Legend said he would never return to the Boston Garden as an opposing player or coach. Now that it’s the TD Garden (after a long list of other names), it’s fair game in his mind.
“I miss the Garden, I wish it was there tonight,” said Bird. “But time moves on. I would never have walked in there to play against the Celtics or coach against them. But now that it’s gone, all bets are off.”
Larry Bird From Tradition
“I can remember the first time I walked in the Garden I wasn’t that impressed because I had to sit in the stands,” Bird recalled. “But as soon as I started playing it was awesome. The history and the fan support, being on some great teams are memories I won’t forget.”
“I sure enjoyed my time out here, I grew up here,” he said of Boston. “I got out of college and I was driving out here and didn’t know what to expect but things turned out pretty good. I thought we had good enough teams to win one or two more championships, but we didn’t do it. We played hard, we played hurt and we played to win.”
For Bird, Boston fans are some of the best, if not the best, in sports.
“You go around the country and people always ask me about Boston sports. What I tell them is they expect you to play hard; they expect you to play together,” he said. “They’ll support you if you show them that you care. There is nothing like being a sports fan in Boston. New York always talks the talk, but they don’t have the championships to back it. Boston is the greatest sports town in America, maybe the world.”
Bird Talks Bill Russel, Old Garden and Boston Fans
Bird also said he enjoyed watching the Bruins win the Stanley Cup. He admits it is one incredible run that Boston sports are on right now, claiming seven championships in 10 years. He also feels the current Celtics have a chance to add to that.
“They’re still very talented,” Bird said, adding that health would be a big factor to another Celtics banner. “There are probably 4-5 teams that can win a championship in this league and they’re one of them.”
Bird also took some time to honor a couple of his former teammates whose numbers are alongside his in the Garden rafters.
“I looked up there and paid my respects to DJ (Dennis Johnson) and Reggie (Lewis),” said Bird of his late teammates. “I know how important it was to them to have their numbers up in the rafters. DJ with the fine career he had and Reggie’s was cut short. (I was) just thinking of them.”
While there is no Larry Bird statue on the streets of Boston, he said it is about time Celtics great Bill Russell will finally get one.
“Bill Russell is one of my idols; I adore him,” said Bird of the 11-time NBA Champion. “He’s done so much for the game and so much for the world. He means so much to all of us in this game. He set the bar; he set it too high but he set the bar. I just wish Bill the best. I think if anyone should be out there it’s Bill Russell.”