Bird runs hard and doesn't avoid crowds under the basket.
"I feel like I'm learning basketball all over again," he said after the second pre-season game.
But after the fifth game, Parish said, "he's getting back to the way he was before the injury. He's not as hesitant to drive to the basket."
After Bird had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in 35 minutes as the Celtics beat San Antonio in his third pre-season game, Spurs rookie center David Robinson was in awe.
"I've never played against a player like Bird and there he is, coming off screens," Robinson said. "What do I do? Should I go out to him? Lay off him? If I give him any room he'll hit the shot."
"Last year teams didn't care if we shot (from outside) in the fourth quarter. They'd lay off" the shooter, McHale said. "But the other night, Larry passed inside a few times and that opened up outside shots later on."
Reggie Lewis, who blossomed as Bird's replacement last season despite being closely guarded, expects to benefit this season as well.
"He's going to be double-teamed so I'll get a lot of shots," said Lewis, who is switching to shooting guard. "All I have to do is just find the open spot and he'll give me the ball."
If his teammates are happy he's back, imagine how the competitive Bird must feel.
"The last two years I spent most of my time going to doctors and that got old," he said. "Basketball is definitely fun again."
Now imagine how opponents must feel.