Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are two of the greatest players in NBA history, with the latter, his Airness, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time. According to Bird’s former teammate Robert Parish however, Larry Bird was a better leader than Michael Jordan, and Parish believes it was because Jordan’s leadership style crossed the line too much in terms of not showing his teammates enough respect.
“That’s one thing I always liked about us, the Celtics. We respected one another. We talked a lot of trash every day about each other, but there was always that respect,” Parish said on a recent episode of the Cedric Maxwell Podcast. “I can’t think of one teammate that did not respect one another. We always respected one another,” Parish said during his experience on The Cedric Maxwell Podcast. “I think that’s where Michael crossed the line. He demanded perfection. I felt like if you’re going to demand perfection, which is impossible to do by the way, you gotta give them some respect.”
Parish, nicknamed the “Big Chief” during his tenure with the Celtics, restated his belief that Larry Bird was a better leader than Michael Jordan because he believes Jordan’s constant beratement of his teammates eventually caused them to tune him out rather than become inspired to play better.
“I think Larry’s style and philosophy makes the best leaders because if you are a yeller and a screamer, after a while, your voice fall on deaf ears, and players just kinda tune you out, don’t hear what you got to say,” Parish said. “I respect both leadership styles, but I prefer Larry’s style the best. Cause you know, some nights you don’t want to hear what he got to say, speaking of Michael.”
Parish added that Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson left the Bulls locker room to govern itself, with Jordan establishing himself as the team leader. Parish believes that the Celtics team he played for wouldn’t have let Bird get away with the “bullying” that Jordan subjected his teammates to.
“Phil, like most coaches, left the locker room alone. He let the players figure out the hierarchy, and how the locker room was going to be governed. Michael just took it and ran with it. He just bullied all those guys… They didn’t have the balls to say nothing about it, the teammates,” Parish said. “There’s no way we would’ve took that from Larry. There ain’t no way, Max. Come on now, you know it’s true. There ain’t no way we would tolerate that behavior from Larry, and he was our leader.”
While Parish brings up some good points about the leadership qualities of Michael Jordan being tough, it’s tough to argue with the results. During his fifteen seasons played, the Chicago Bulls legend won six NBA championships. Larry Bird, who played thirteen seasons in the NBA, led the Boston Celtics to three NBA championships.
What do you think of the fact that Robert Parish thinks Larry Bird was a better leader than Michael Jordan? Do you agree or disagree with him? Let us know in the comments.