Rockets’ Kevin McHale: Larry Bird was better than Luka Doncic

Head coach Kevin McHale of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Head coach Kevin McHale of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

Former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale shared his opinion on the comparisons that have been doled out for Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic.

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has become the NBA’s main attraction in the eyes of the media, as he’s drawn comparisons to many of the league’s all-time greats, which Houston Rockets fans are all too familiar with.

Doncic has drawn comparisons to James Harden, and his age has been erroneously cited as proof of why he should be viewed as a greater player than Harden.

The Luka-Harden comparison has even led prominent national writer Bill Simmons to discount Harden’s assists in favor of Luka.

Bill Simmons' in his latest podcast: "Luka's assists are like Bird's – they're not cheap assists… like the James Harden type of assists'.

— Andrew Soukup (@asoukuptx) August 10, 2020

Simmons took it a step further, by comparing Doncic to Boston Celtics legend and NBA all-time great Larry Bird. Former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale stated his opinion on the comparisons between Doncic and Larry Bird, and it’s fair to say he vehemently disagrees with Simmons.

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McHale gave a colorful description of just how much he disagrees with Luka being viewed in the same light as his longtime teammate during his last appearance on Houston’s ESPN 97.5 The Game.

Former Rockets coach McHale speaks on Luka-Bird comparisons

“Larry was an unbelievable competitor, tough as nails, great vision, and great ability to rebound. And people forget Larry is 6’9, 240 pounds, and strong as an ox.

Larry would be a much better Luka Doncic. Larry was a better basketball player. Bigger, stronger, better.”

As McHale pointed out, Bird is listed at 6-foot-9, which makes him bigger in stature than Doncic, who is 6-foot-7. But the comparisons should stop there, as Bird is viewed as one of the best players in NBA history, and with McHale having been Bird’s teammate for 12 seasons, he’s most qualified to speak on a comparison involving Bird.

In 13 seasons in the NBA, Bird made 12 All-Star appearances and won three championships. In addition, Bird was a much better shooter than Doncic from behind the arc, as he holds a career 3-point shooting percentage of 37.6 percent, compared to Luka’s 32.1 percent.

Bird’s stellar shooting stroke made him ahead of his time in many ways, as he made 40 percent of his 3-pointers in six total seasons, including four straight from 1984-1988. Bird also holds career averages of 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists.

Bird also averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in at least five seasons, which is the most in NBA history for a single player. Bird was also named to the All-Defensive team on three different occasions, which seems out of sight for Doncic, although he’s only 21-years-old, as we’ve commonly been told during each Dallas Mavericks game.

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Despite Luka’s youth and brilliance, he may never live up to the comparisons of Larry Bird. Former Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale is right in that regard.