Larry Bird is truly one of the greatest players to ever play the sport of basketball. He is a three-time MVP, three-time NBA champion, 12-time all-star and a seemingly unanimous inclusion on anyone's list of the top-10 players of all time. Through his 897 games in the NBA, the pride of Indiana Indiana averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. Bird played his entire career with the Boston Celtics, also making his singular presence felt as a head coach and front office executive with the Indiana Pacers.
There are few players who have had such a massive impact on the sport of basketball as Larry Bird. While he is now enjoying his time in retirement, here are five of the best moments of Larry Legend's career to reflect on.
5. Larry Lefty
Sometimes basketball felt so easy for him that Bird had to find different ways to challenge himself. Such was the case during a Valentines' Day matchup with the Trail Blazers in 1986.
Bird had an impressive performance in the matchup and ended with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He also hit a game-winner with three seconds remaining in the overtime period. However, it was not the stats that jumped off the page, but how he did it that was more impressive.
Bird elected to use his left hand for plenty of his scoring and poured in a variety of layups, floaters and short jumpers with his non-dominant hand. The motivation behind his gambit, that he was "saving his right hand for the Lakers," makes it so much better.
4. 60-point performance:
For much of his career, Larry Bird held the record for most points scored in a game in franchise history. However, Kevin McHale really had it going one night against the Detroit Pistons one night and poured in 56 points, breaking Bird's record.
When asked about the impressive performance of his teammate, Larry Legend replied, "He should have got 60." Just a few days later, Bird scored 60 points—a mark tied by Jayson Tatum in 2021—against the Atlanta Hawks to re-establish himself as the Boston record- holder. His competitive drive is what made Bird so special, not to mention the ability to produce at that ridiculous level in such a casual manner.
3. Game 7 Triple-Double
In Game 7 of the 1984 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Larry Bird refused to allow the Celtics to be defeated by the New York Knicks. At the Boston Garden with the home crowd behind him, he put forth one of his most artful efforts and did everything that was necessary to ensure the Celtics would not go down.
Bird finished with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for a Game 7 triple-double in a series he averaged over 30 points per game. This allowed the Celtics to advance to the Conference Finals and eventually win the championship that year. Without Bird's epic performance under do-or-die circumstances, the Celtics surely would have fallen to the Knicks. the strong play of Bird to uplift the team past the Knicks this would not have been possible.
2. 1986 three-point contest
While his basketball ability is unquestioned, there is an argument that Larry Bird was even more talented as a trash-talker. Perhaps his finest work in this area occurred during the 1986 three-point contest at All-Star Weekend. Bird walked into a locker room full of the game's best long-range shooters calmly as ever, peering at his competition. When asked what he was doing, Bird simply replied, "I'm just looking to see who is going to come in second."
Evidently, it was Craig Hodges who came in second. Bird cruised to the three-point contest just as he promised.
1. Final Triple-Double
If not for lingering back injuries, Bird may have been able to add even more accomplishments to his impressive career. However, all good things must come to an end at some point. In his final season in the NBA at the age of 35, Bird put forth an impressive effort and tallied the final triple-double of his career.
On March 15th, 1992, Bird produced his final triple-double in a matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers. A 41-point performance from Clyde Drexler was not enough to outdo his throwback performance. Bird ended the game with 49 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals and a block. This was the 59th triple-double of his career and at the time was the most points scored in a triple-double in NBA history (James Harden later broke this record).
Even in the twilight of his career, it was clear Bird still was one of the NBA's best players.