Can a former YouTube star really get away with playing one of the greatest icons in basketball history? Last week, Variety broke the news that Bo Burnham has been cast as Larry Bird in an upcoming HBO drama series. It’s a tall order (no pun intended) that has us scrambling to measure Bo Burnham’s height against Larry Bird’s height. Find out their actual stats and whether Burnham’s stature will do justice to the legendary Hall of Famer.
Bo Burnham Is Set To Portray Larry Bird In A New HBO Series
Per Variety, Burnham will play Bird in an untitled HBO series produced by Adam McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short, Vice). The script, written by Max Borenstein (Godzilla), is based on Jeff Pearlman’s 2014 book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. The series will chronicle the lives of the Los Angeles Lakers in an era before anyone knew the names Shaq, Kobe, or LeBron.
Bird, who spent his entire NBA career with the Boston Celtics, led his team in a years-long rivalry against the Lakers. Many credit him and Magic Johnson for renewing the public’s interest in the NBA during the 1980s.
Burnham began his career as a viral internet sensation before crossing over to more traditional avenues in showbiz. He initially saw success as a stand-up comedian in the 2000s; in 2018, he wrote and directed his first feature film, Eighth Grade. He has also directed two comedy specials: Jerrod Carmichael: 8 for HBO and Chris Rock: Tamborine for Netflix. Most recently, he starred alongside Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman.
By signing on to the HBO project, Burnham will join an A-list cast that includes Michael Chiklis as Red Auerbach, Sally Field as Jessie Buss, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley, and John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss.
We already know that Burham is gifted at making music and telling jokes. But can the man dribble? Or, at the very least, can he get away with looking like Larry Bird? Let’s compare stats and see if execs behind the project made a smart casting decision.
How Tall Is Larry Bird In Real Life?
There’s a reason Bird is one of the greatest basketball players in history. The man, known as the “Hick from French Lick,” stands 6’9″, which made him a force on the court during his heyday.
Sadly, he’s convinced that his height will also be his ultimate downfall. In a grim 2016 interview with ESPN, the legend revealed that he doesn’t expect to live past 75.
“I tell my wife all the time, ‘You don’t see many 7-footers walking around at the age of 75,'” said Bird. “She hates it when I say that. I know there are a few of us who live a long time, but most of us big guys don’t seem to last too long. I’m not lying awake at night thinking about it. If it goes, it goes.”
Bird, 64, takes a number of existing factors into account. He currently suffers from an abnormal heartbeat. He also confessed that he often skipped the medication required to manage his condition.
“Guys that played the hardest in the league—big guys who ran their asses off—they are the ones in the most danger, I feel,” he continued. “We build our hearts up when we are playing and then we quit performing at a high level, and our hearts just sit there. I don’t work out like I used to—I can’t… I jog and have a little sauna, that’s about it. My body won’t let me do more than that.”
How Tall Is Bo Burnham? Is He Tall Enough To Play Larry Bird?
News of Burham’s role has been met with sour and snarky remarks on social media.
“Seems like a pretty big height disparity,” remarked one Twitter user.
“Was Jane Lynch not available?” asked another.
It turns out Burnham is 6’5”. Critics who prefer an actor closer to Bird’s actual height apparently don’t know that the pool of experienced actors who are 6’9” is likely to be very shallow. Unfortunately, those who do understand the decision still sound a little bothered.
“6’5” is probably as close as they could get. I hope he’s working on his stasche [sic] and his corner 3,” one person remarked.
Another chimed in, “Cast for height and then coach the acting, I guess.”
It remains to be seen if Burnham can shoot, but as far as his size and resume are concerned, he seems like a reasonable choice to portray Bird. Plus, with the right camera work, he can easily appear a few inches taller.
A release date for the series is tentatively set for 2022.