There’s no doubting Larry Bird’s pure talent. By adding smarts and most importantly grit, Larry became a legend.
Talent + Smarts + Grit = Legend.
Like every Hoosier, I grew up with a hoop in my driveway. Every day after school I’d play, trying to imitate Larry’s best moves. Of his top 10 plays, some emphasized talent – like the turnaround jumper over Jordan. Others pinpointed his creativity – like his bounce pass to Parish between the defender’s legs, or the time he swished a shot from behind the hoop.
But most of his top 10s, including number one, was a product of Larry’s hustle, heart and grit.
Unfortunately for my basketball career, I’m 5-10 and couldn’t shoot my way out of a paper bag. Hustle + smarts can get you onto the Freshman Team in high school, but that was my zenith without the talent.
Warning: Here’s the part where I make the cliché (but appropriate) analogy from sports to business. To become successful in anything, you’ll need talent and smarts. But you’ll never be legendary without grit.
Larry’s gritty play has made him the unofficial Sigstr mascot (read: role model), and I’m honored that via our customer the Indiana Pacers, Larry Bird uses Sigstr.
Below, I’ve included an excerpt from a recent Larry Bird interview where he talks about his approach to every game. To him, he treated each game as though it were the last. He gave the same effort in game 22 of the regular season as he did in the finals.
At Sigstr, we have another saying emphasizing grit: “If you’re a man (or woman) by night, you’re a man (or woman) by day”. (Credit to Brooksource). Meaning, whatever happened yesterday, should have no impact on your effort today. Prior to a game with the Hawks, it was rumored, Larry stayed out pretty late the prior night. The Hawks thought it could be an advantage. But Larry was a man that day. He scored 60.
We will all make mistakes. When our talent or smarts let us down, it’s effort and determination, our grit, that we always control. With Larry, you knew you were getting his best effort every night.
Legend. Thanks for being an inspiration to me and to the Sigstr crew, Larry!
Legendary excerpt printed by the Indianapolis Star:
Boston Celtics legend and Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird was warned during his second year in the NBA that if he continued doing what he was doing to his body, he wouldn’t be long for the league.
“I remember my second year in the league,” Bird said in a recent Q&A with ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, “we were in the All-Star Game in New Jersey, and Artis Gilmore told me, ‘Man, you’re really a good player, Larry. You’re going to be great. But if you keep playing the way you’re playing, you’re not going to last long.’ I said, ‘I can’t play any other way. That’s the way I play.
“I think it was how hard I was playing. He never worked out. But I knew it. I knew I wasn’t going to last long. I knew I was breaking down. It was just the way it is. I had this desire to win every game and the only way I felt, in my mind, that I could do that was to be in the best condition.
“…my thoughts were always that that night was the most important game in the world. Everybody in the world was watching that one game. And I had to be the best player on the court and win that game that night. That was my mentality, and it stuck with me all the way through my career. But knowing that, I knew that I was going to pay for it in a hard way. That’s probably why, when I retired, after the press conference, I probably felt relief.”