Larry Bird’s Biography

I just finished Larry Bird’s biography. It’s called “Drive: The Story of my Life.” This man was a legend. Take a quick peek at this story.

Anyway, I read this book to try and more fully understand the competitive spirit, which Bird clearly embodied. I have to say though, the book is really bad, but it’s bad in a very specific way, and not bad due to anything about Bird.

In fact, the book is bad because he’s humble to a fault. He basically just narrates the games that he played and offers a few comment about each one, none of which is anything an average observer in the stands could have guessed. From reading his book, you wouldn’t even really think he was that good of a player.

The lesson though comes from this lack of introspection or even personal-level detail. What I think the book proves is that competitors get, in a very specific and robust way, sucked into the sport or activity they take part in. I think Bird has nothing interesting to offer about his own reaction to games because he was completely subsumed INTO the game. There’s a part where he demonstrates his ability to remember every detail about every game he ever played in (he identifies the minutes and seconds left in a random tape he sees just by noticing the position of the band playing a fight song), everything that is, except his own thoughts on what’s happening. His attention was directed so completely outward, that you almost wonder if there was a thinking feeling person that was inside while he was playing.

So, in summary. I don’t recommend this book. The insight that you get out of it requires that you read through a lot of simple narration of events that we already know everything about, only to get to the lesson which I’ve already related: Larry Bird was a basketball playing machine. He’s great, hard-working, and a person that one can only admire. My point is just that highlight clips and interviews establish this much better than his own perspective ever can. Don’t read this book, just look up some of the games he played in.

However, you should read this book if you want to understand how single-minded competitors can be.

Also, it is a little interesting to hear about all his injuries. His hands (and fingers) particularly took a lot of punishment, but that never stopped his ability to make shots.


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