Larry Bird and Bill Laimbeer stood in the middle of an intense Celtics-Pistons rivalry spanning the late 1980s and early 1990s. But the individual feud between those two wasn’t just a battle within that war. It was personal. It was beef.
Starting with his trade to the Pistons in the early 1980s, Laimbeer built a reputation as not just a strong rebounder and scorer, but a relentless pest. On one hand, he’d make dirty and dangerous plays, then act like nothing had happened. On the other hand, he’d flop and whine to bait the referees into calling fouls on his opponents.
Nobody despised Laimbeer for this quite as much as Bird did. Bird’s public campaign against Laimbeer’s style of play dated back to the Celtics-Pistons playoff series in 1985, and really took off after Laimbeer started a brawl by fouling Bird hard in the 1987 playoffs. Bird accused Laimbeer of intentionally trying to injure him, and never withdrew the accusation. Even decades later, these two NBA legends maintain an icy distance because of how things played out on the court.
This beef might never end, so in this episode, we learn about what built it.