Bird retired as a player after the 1991-92 season, but he's told MacMullan more than once that he should have retired three or four years earlier because of the injuries Ainge mentioned.
Regarding the upcoming Bird tribute dinner and statue dedication in Terre Haute, MacMullan said she didn't hesitate to say yes when Bird's longtime representative, Jill Leone, asked her to play a role in the festivities.
"I'm honored," MacMullan said. "Larry's been great to me. I can't even tell you how great he's been to me and to my family. He's just a wonderful, wonderful person. All this gruff exterior, it's all a bunch of nonsense. He's really a soft-hearted, very kind person. He's certainly my most favorite person that I've ever covered.
"He's just been a joy to be around. I love his competition. I love arguing with him, which we still do occasionally about basketball. I don't always agree with everything he says, but I've just got a great deal of respect for him. So I'm thrilled to get to be there."
The kind words for Bird didn't stop there.
Enter the Big Red Head, who happens to be a fan of late-1800s and early-1900s union leader and Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.
"There's nobody like Larry Bird," Walton stressed, oozing with admiration. "He is such a great friend and he is such a great man. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I got to play with Larry Bird. I know Larry Bird and now I get to come and rub the foot of his statue in Terre Haute, Indiana, the home of Eugene Debs, another great American."