Simply the Best

image for Simply the Best
Exhibition Label
In the late winter of 1985, the cover of Time magazine featured this double portrait of basketball star Larry Bird and hockey great Wayne Gretzky. The image ran with the headline "Simply the Best," and in the accompanying article, the magazine described the pair as athletes whose excellence had "transcended the competition." The praise was certainly well deserved. During twenty-one years of professional play, Gretzky recorded more goals, assists, and total points than any hockey player in history and was named to the All-Star team eighteen times. As for Bird, his achievements with the Boston Celtics included three Most Valuable Player awards, appearances in twelve All-Star games, and a points-scored record that placed him among the leading scorers of all time. Through the brilliance of their play, Bird and Gretzky both dominated and defined their respective sports for a generation of fans.
Bart Forbes, born 1939
Larry Joe Bird, born 7 Dec 1956
Wayne Gretzky, born 1961
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Bart Forbes
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
On View
NPG, South Gallery 342 Mezzanine
Object number
Equipment\Sports Equipment\Basketball
Equipment\Sports Equipment\Skates
Larry Joe Bird: Male
Larry Joe Bird: Sports and Recreation\Athlete\Basketball
Larry Joe Bird: Sports and Recreation\Coach\Basketball
Wayne Gretzky: Male
Wayne Gretzky: Sports and Recreation\Athlete\Hockey
Acrylic on canvas
Stretcher: 63.5 x 48.3 x 3.2cm (25 x 19 x 1 1/4")
Frame: 76.2 x 60.6 x 6.7cm (30 x 23 7/8 x 2 5/8")
National Portrait Gallery