Twenty years ago, I was sitting with a couple of writers and a couple of Celtics in the atrium lounge of the Dallas Hyatt when hundreds of young people started pouring through the lobby en route to a Bruce Springsteen concert next door at Reunion Arena.
"Springsteen, who's he?" asked Larry Bird.
"Larry, he's the you of rock and roll," I told him.
"Well, he must be pretty good, then," offered Larry.
For the unordained, working in references to Larry Bird is a common Dan technique, like he did here in an April, 19, 2003, hatchet job on Boston Bruin Joe Thorton ("Not to bring up unfair comparisons, but Larry Bird would never have said those words."), and again here, discussing Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera ("This would be like Larry Bird getting booed at Boston Garden."), and again here, writing the day before the Sox-Yankees ALCS, and here, in a March 3, 2003, piece on boxer (!) Jose Ruiz ("Though he was never a local sports celebrity like Bobby Orr, Larry Bird, or Pedro Martinez"), and most recently just last Sept. 26.
(Re the alleged Bird-Springsteen comment, the twist is that perhaps Dan is embellishing just where the episode took place. As Gerry Callahan wrote for Sports Illustrated on Sept. 30, 1998, the event took place "in a less pricey pub in Dallas.")
Back to today's column, where in culminating his latest Larry analogy Dan makes the startling admission: "That exchange is sort of beside the point, but I love telling the story."
Well, at least he recognizes it, even if his editors don't.