At a time when the NBA seems to be at the vanguard of so many of the nation’s important issues—COVID-19, issues of social justice, national anthem protests—perhaps it is a good time to be reminded that sometimes we can just take enjoyment in the offbeat things. Like, for example, a vegetable that looks almost exactly like a Celtics Hall of Fame all-time great.
In this case, it is a tomato (and yes, technically, that makes it a fruit). Not just any tomato, though. This one looks eerily like Larry Bird, arguably the best player in Celtics history.
It started with a tweet from a gardener in England, who posted a photo last week of a tomato with the line, “The tomato of confusion has arrived.” That was on Friday.
On Sunday morning, Whitney Medworth, an editor at SB Nation, helped the tomato gain its true identity. “That’s Larry Bird,” she tweeted. That comment was retweeted more than 27,000 times and liked 243,000 times.
In case there was any doubt, the website BallIsLife.com tweeted a side-by-side picture of Bird with the tomato. The resemblance was uncanny.
There you have it, a tomato that looks like Larry Bird.
‘Am I Trippin or Does This Tomato Look Like Larry Bird?’
Former player and author Etan Thomas, who played nine seasons in the league, was among the first to pick up the resemblance. “Am I trippin,” he asked, “or does this tomato look like Larry Bird?”
Dan Pfeiffer, host of the podcast Pod Save America and a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, had the right idea about the Bird tomato—the fact that Twitter had gotten so universally on board with the whole thing did seem to be, “a throwback to a simpler time on Twitter.”
Larry Bird, Legendary Trash Talker
And perhaps the best interpretation of the tomato and its doppelganger came from Twitter user @Pappy_hour, who compared Bird’s legendary appearances in the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest to the possibility of the tomato being entered into the Indiana state fair.
Bird was a well-known trash-talker and, as the story has been told, he walked into the locker room ahead of the first-ever 3-point contest, in 1986, and proceeded to needle his foes. Craig Hodges, who was in the contest representing the Milwaukee Bucks, remembered in a 2010 ESPN story, “All of a sudden, he says, ‘Man, who’s comin’ in second?'”
Bird backed it up, shaking off a so-so first round (16 points, which was fourth) to win the semifinal with 18 points and clobbering Hodges in the final, 22-12.
Bird went on to win the first three 3-point contests, beating Detlef Schrempf in the1987 final. In that one, he employed the same trash-talk.
“We had a three-point contest at the All-Star Break,” Lakers guard Michael Cooper remembered, “and Larry walks in and says ‘I hope all you guys are thinking about second place because I’m winning this.'”
Bird beat Dale Ellis in the1988 final. He did not compete in another 3-point contest after that, but he still was ready with a zinger when needed. In 1990, when Hodges finally broke through for his first 3-point contest win, he was asked whether the win was a little less satisfying because he did not have to go through Bird to win.
“He knows where to find me,” said Hodges, who was averaging just 16.7 minutes for the Bulls.
Bird retorted, “Yeah, at the end of the Bulls’ bench.”