Michael Cooper, of the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, couldn’t stand all the trash talk that came out of Larry Bird’s mouth. But from all those Lakers-Boston Celtics Wars in the ’80s, he learned to respect Bird’s game. In fact, during a brief conversation with Masslive.com today, Cooper said that Bird was harder to guard than a young Michael Jordan.
“You knew if Jordan had the ball, once he gave it up, you were okay with that,” Coop began explaining to the website. “Larry could go get offensive rebounds. He could make a great pass. He was the ultimate offensive threat. Anytime he was on the offensive side of the floor you had to defend him. To me, that makes him the best I’ve ever played against.”
Strong words from Cooper, a five-time NBA champion, eight-time All-Defensive Team member, and former NBA Defensive Player of The Year recipient in 1987—the same year he checked Bird in the NBA Finals that seen the Lakers defeat Larry’s Legend’s Celtics.
While Cooper dealt with a younger Jordan that took to the air more than any Bird could, it would have been interesting to see Coop D up an older, more mature Jordan whose game evolved. Still, there’s no way of downplaying a nod to Bird over Jordan from a Laker. That’s a pretty big statement.
Cooper currently serves as the head coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.