Legendary NBA basketball great, Larry Bird, was one of the highest earners of his time. Today Bird has a net worth of $55 million. Much of this came from his salary as an NBA player with the Boston Celtics for thirteen seasons. He also earned money from endorsements and appearances in television specials and movies like “Space Jam”. Bird signed a well earned contract to coach the Indiana Pacers after his retirement and would go on to work as an executive for the team after his retirement. Larry Bird is one of the great basketball legends of the 1980’s. Along with “Magic Johnson” and Michael Jordan, Bird will always be remembered for the excitement he brought to the NBA. From his humble beginnings in Midwestern Indiana to his success with the Boston Celtics, Bird will always be remembered as one of the greatest professional basketball players of his time.
Early Life in Indiana
Larry Bird was born was born in West Baden Springs, Indiana on December 7, 1956. His father Claude was a Korean War Veteran. His mother Georgia stayed home to raise Larry and his four brothers and one sister until Claude and Georgia divorced and Georgia worked two jobs to help the family make ends meet. Larry and his siblings grew up in the town of French Lick in central Indiana. While attending Springs Valley High School, Larry Bird excelled at basketball. With a height that would reach 5 feet 9 inches and skills in agility, it’s no wonder that Bird got a basketball scholarship to Indiana University. ,
In 1974 Larry became an Indiana University Hoosier. While he continued to do well at basketball and even earned the nickname of “The Hick From French Lick”, Larry was never really comfortable at the large university. With trepidation, he dropped out of Indiana University within his first year there and finished the academic year at Northwood University near his hometown of French Lick. He transferred to Indiana State University in Terre Haute his sophomore year.
Feeling more comfortable at Indiana State University, Larry Bird was one of the top forward players on the school’s basketball team. He helped lead the Sycamore’s to the 1979 NCAA tournament. There, Bird would face off against Michigan’s point guard, Ervin “Magic” Johnson in the tournament’s championship game. Bird and “Magic Johnson” would maintain a friendly rivalry throughout their professional careers. That 1979 championship game was the most watched televised college basketball game at the time. Bird would win the Naismith Collage Player of the Year.
Sixth Pick in the First Round of the Draft
Even before he completed college at Indiana State University, Larry Bird was well sought after in the NBA. Due to a rule the NBA had at the time, teams could draft a college junior giving them the option to complete their Senior season before joining the NBA team. Bird was chosen 6th in the 1st round of the 1978 draft by the Boston Celtics. As expected, Larry Bird finished his last season with Indiana State University before joining the Celtics as a forward the following season.
Bird would play with the Boston, Celtics for thirteen seasons as one of their top players and one of the best players in the NBA. Bird was named an NBA All Star twelve times during his run with the Boston Celtics. At the height of his career, Bird was named NBA MVP three times in 1984, 1985 and 1986. The Celtics were at the height of their NBA career during the 1980’s with a well known rival, the Los Angeles Laker’s. Throughout his career, Bird had an ongoing friendly rivalry with his college basketball nemesis, “Magic Johnson”. The two would become good friends off the court but played up their rivalry for the media. They appeared in a Converse commercial during the 1980’s showcasing their on court rivalry.
Throughout his professional basketball career, Larry Bird earned a very nice salary. He also earned money from endorsements. He also earned money for appearances in commercials like Converse as well as television and film appearances. Bird appeared in 1994’s “Blue Chips” directed by William Friedkin. He appeared in “Celtic Pride” and the movie “Space Jam”. Larry Bird was one of the top earners in the NBA throughout his career from 1979 through 1993. From 1979 through 1984, $1.8 million a season. Bird’s 1989-1990 season salary was $2,750,000. The following season he earned $1.5 million. Bird’s 1991 to 1992 season was his highest earning at $7,070,000! During his last season with the Boston Celtics, Larry Bird made $2.3 million.
Larry Bird retired from the NBA and the Boston Celtics in 1992. That year he played on the United States’ summer Olympics mens basketball team in Barcelona, Spain. He played with NBA greats including “Magic Johnson” and Michael Jordan as part of what was dubbed “The Dream Team”. The USA Men’s Basketball Team won the Gold Medal. The team would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. The win led to commercials for the teammates.
Indiana Pacers Coach and Executive
Following the 1992 to 1993 season, Larry Bird retired from the NBA mostly because of back problems. In 1996 Bird was recognized as a part of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1997 Bird joined his home state’s NBA team, the Indiana Pacers, as the coach. He signed a five year contract for $22.5 million. That season Bird was named NBA Coach of the Year. He stayed with the Pacers as Coach through 2000. He led the team to Central Division Titles in 1999 and 2000 before retiring. In 2003 Bird returned to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations. He retired from the position in 2012 but returned the following year and continued on as a team executive until 2017. Bird has since stayed on as an advisor to the team.
Larry Bird has had a successful career as a basketball player, an executive, and an advisor. Bird is the only NBA player and executive named Rookie of the Year, MVP, NBA Finals MVP, All Star MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. Bird continues to be an advisor to the Indiana Pacers. Bird is well known for his humble Midwestern appearance, incredible height and great agility on the basketball court. He will remain one of basketball’s greatest legends.