WALTHAM, Mass. — Doug McDermott couldn’t expect to come to a workout with the Boston Celtics and not be asked about the player he’s been compared to for years: Larry Bird.
So how does McDermott, a projected first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, feel about constantly being placed on a level with one of the greatest basketball players of all time? Honestly, he’s not a big fan of it.
“It’s really not fair,” the Creighton product told reporters after his workout Thursday. “I don’t think you can compare anyone to Larry Bird. There’s just not going to be another one. I think it’s good to have a guy like that for everyone to look up to, myself included, because, you know, that’s the best of the best right there — him and Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan) and those guys. You can’t compare guys to those three, I don’t think. I just take pieces of his game and try to apply it to mine.”
Those comparisons reached an all-time high when Sports Illustrated trotted out this cover for their 2014 NCAA tournament preview issue — an idea McDermott initially couldn’t believe:
“I thought they were crazy,” McDermott said. “I didn’t want to disrespect Larry like that. But I think it was a cool idea just to show some people that were around in that time maybe just a flash to the past. I’m glad I was the one chosen to do that, but obviously there’s never going to be another Larry Bird. But it’s cool to just kind of have a tribute to him with that cover.”
Though McDermott doesn’t place much stock in the comparisons between him and the Hall of Famer, he does have a strong connection with several current Celtics, particularly some who were going through the same draft process not long ago.
“I know Phil Pressey, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk really well,” he said, “so those guys I feel like I’d be real comfortable with. And coach (Brad) Stevens, obviously a former college coach who my dad’s friends with, no one wouldn’t want to play with him. … I talk to Phil, I got to know him real well when he was at Missouri. He’s a good friend of mine. We talk probably once a week, so it’s cool seeing him. I think I’d fit in great with those guys.”
The Celtics hold the No. 6 and No. 17 picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Most experts project McDermott as a mid-to-late first-rounder, with a chance to go in the latter part of the lottery.
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