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Larry Bird wants players to 'play hard' in ASG

Michael Kovac / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty

Larry Bird hopes to see some competitive fire in Sunday evening's All-Star Game following a string of lackluster showings in the annual midseason exhibition contest.

"The one thing I would really like to see is they play hard tonight in this All-Star Game," Bird told reporters Sunday at the NBA's Legends Brunch.

"I think it's very important when you have the best players in the world together, you've got to compete. And you've got to play hard. And you've got to show the fans how good they really are."

Bird was a 12-time All-Star selection during his illustrious career with the Boston Celtics, winning MVP honors in the 1982 edition of the game. The Hall of Famer averaged 13.4 points, 7.9 boards, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals over 10 appearances in the showcase event.

Bird also served as a head coach in the 1998 All-Star Game after guiding the Indiana Pacers to the East's top record.

The league has tried to spice up the event in recent years, implementing an Elam Ending and a player draft before returning to its traditional East-versus-West format for Sunday's prime-time tilt in Indianapolis.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has previously spoken about cutting down the entertainment aspect of the evening in order to emulate more of a typical gameday experience for the players.

"If we want guys to treat this like a real game, and again, this is not about (NBA) Finals intensity, it's just a fun game. But if we want players to treat it that way, we have to treat it that way," Silver told Marc J. Spears of ESPN's Andscape in November. "And so, it means that the introduction is going to have to be a little bit shorter and halftime's going to have to be a little bit more typical, starting in Indianapolis."

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