Nearly 30 years ago, then-college basketball star Jamal Mashburn saw Larry Bird in a hotel prior to a week of scrimmages between The Dream Team and some of the country’s top college players. Upon crossing paths with Mashburn and the other amateurs, Bird shared a simple message: “Get some f- – – ing rest, it’s gonna be a long week.” Mashburn recalls this run-in and Bird’s legendary trash talk in an appearance on the Players’ Tribune “Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles” podcast.
Mashburn, Rodney Rodgers, and Chris Webber were among the group of college stars tasked with getting The Dream Team ready for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. As the legend goes, the college players sprung out to an early lead against Team USA, who were still figuring out how to share the wealth amongst a roster full of superstars (and Christian Laettner.) The initial scrimmage was stopped early, giving the college players the “win” and doing just enough to give The Dream Team the kick in the can they needed to dominate the world.
Feeling frisky after an assertive initial scrimmage, Mashburn recalled that Rodney Rodgers dared to poke the bear: “We get back to the hotel. Rodney Rogers says something to… it’s a group of them, it’s Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, everybody’s shooting the shit. And Rodney Rogers said, ‘Hey Larry, you ain’t hit a jumper since ’84.’”
“The next day, we came in, and I’d never seen this, and this was when I was like, ‘This is a different breed,’” said Mashburn. “Magic Johnson fed Larry Bird the ball probably about eight times in a row down court. Larry Bird got the ball on Rodney Rogers, and every time he was about to make a move, he told him what he was going to do.”
Naturally, Bird connected on each shot and before exiting the floor told Rodgers: “Young fella, look like ’84, huh?”
There’s a reason they call him Larry Legend.