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Larry Bird's wish has become reality

 There is often a reticence among pro sports participants to broach the subject of race - but back in 2004, Larry Bird, as Pacers president of basketball operations, had no such restraints (per ESPN.com): 


"Well, I think so," said (Larry) Bird, the Indiana Pacers' president of basketball operations. "You know, when I played, you had me and Kevin [McHale] and some others throughout the league. I think it's good for a fan base because, as we all know, the majority of the fans are white America. And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited. But it is a black man's game, and it will be forever. I mean, the greatest athletes in the world are African-American."

Larry was sarcastically dubbed "The Great White Hope" by one or two of his new teammates upon his arrival in Boston, and he became just that. Many felt that this relatively slow, only-moderately-athletic white guy could not make a major mark in the NBA, but he proved them wrong.

In contrast, Bird also added that he felt being guarded by a white guy was disrespectful to his abilities (per ESPN.com):

"The one thing that always bothered me when I played in the NBA was I really got irritated when they put a white guy on me," Bird said. "I still don't understand why. A white guy would come out (and) I would always ask him: 'What, do you have a problem with your coach? Did your coach do this to you?' And he'd go, 'No,' and I'd say, 'Come on, you got a white guy coming out here to guard me; you got no chance.' ... For some reason, that always bothered me when I was playing against a white guy.

Looking at the 2023-24 season, Larry's wish may be coming true. The success of Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Domantas Sabonis and the Celtics Kristaps Porzingis carry on what Bird started. 

Now comes another blond, white guy onto Boston's parquet floor, and Celtics Coach, Joe Mazzulla, initially hesitated to explain why many basketball fans viewed Sam Hauser as a liability on defense:

“A white shooter. Most people don't think he can play defense. Yeah, I said it.”

Yes, Joe said it. "A white shooter". Mazzulla blasted the much-held, stereotypical belief that - not only "White men can't jump' (how about Dave Cowens) - but they can't be stars and can't be high-level defenders.

For someone who originally was skeptical of Joe Mazzulla as Celtics coach, I am really loving the guy!



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