Larry Bird

February 8, 2012
By , Overland Park, KS
Larry Bird’s career started when he was in college when he was deciding whether or not to go to Indiana State Univ. or Indiana Univ. He picked Indiana State because he didn’t like all the hype in Indiana. In His senior year at Indiana he led the Sycamores (Indiana State) to the National Championship against Michigan State. On the other team there was also a superstar named Ervin “Magic” Johnson. It was the first time the two star forwards would match talent and wits, but it wouldn’t be the last. His Sycamores lost but they finished an impressive 33-1 record and Larry earned many awards. He earned Player of the Year, Naismith Award, and the Wooden Award.

Larry’s career was just getting started. He got drafted by the Boston Celtics and was the number one pick in the draft. He also signed a record $650,000 contract with the Celtics (back then it was a lot of money). In his first year he averaged 21.3 points per game and led the team in rebounding (10.4 rebounds/game), steals (143), and minutes played (2,955). With president and general manager Red Auerbach guiding the front office, the Celtics quickly became one of the two dominant teams in the NBA during the 1980s, with the other being the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Larry’s collegiate rival, Magic Johnson. In fact, during the decade, every NBA final featured either the Celtics or the Lakers or both.

In the 1983-84 campaign, the Celtics returned to the NBA Finals and faced off against Magic and the Lakers. In a spectacular seven-game series, Boston defeated the Lakers, winning the seventh game 111–102. Larry Bird averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds a game during the series. He was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Finals. Bird was also named the NBA’s regular season MVP for that year. The Celtics returned to the Finals to cap the 1984-85 seasons, and once again battled the Lakers. This time it was LA’s turn to win, but Larry Bird was once again named the NBA’s MVP. In just a few short years the Celtics/Lakers, Bird versus Magic matchup had become one of the greatest rivalries in sports, followed by millions of fans nationwide.

The 1987-88 season was Larry’s best statistically. He averaged 29.9 points per game, playing 39 minutes per game, with a .527 field goal percentage and .916 free throw percentages. Then, in 1988-89, his season was cut short with a need for a bone-spur operation. He returned for the 1989-90 season, but was somewhat slowed by back problems that would eventually contribute to his retirement. Still, Larry Bird remained among the NBA’s elite, leading the Celtics to the playoffs in each of his last three seasons and averaging over 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists a game, and shooting 45% or better from the field over the same stretch. In the summer of 1992, Larry Bird joined Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and other NBA stars to form the U.S. Olympics Men’s Basketball Team. It was the first time the U.S. had sent professional athletes to compete in the games and the assembly of superstars was dubbed the Dream Team. True to their billing, Larry Bird and his fellow NBA colleagues easily won the Olympic Gold Medal for the United States.

In the end Larry Bird was an exceptional player and clutch many times. He is one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history.





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