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Boston Celtics History: Debunking and exploring Larry Bird Myths trivia quiz

Larry Bird

If one wishes to try the harder All-Star edition of the quiz, try to answer the questions without looking at the multiple choice offerings.

Layup-Which hand was Larry Bird’s natural strong hand?

A) Right hand B) Left hand

Dunk-True or false: Although reputed to be a non-leaper, Bird actually averaged nearly one blocked shot per game over his pro career.

A) True B) False

Layup-Why did Larry leave Indiana University after a brief 24-day tenure on campus as a freshman?*who was his roommate

A) Homesick/overwhelmed by size of IU

B) Dispute with Bob Knight

Lefty layup-True or false: Bird turned down the Celtics’ unusual proposal to join the team and play the last several games of the 1978-79 NBA season after his senior college basketball season had ended.

A) True B) False

Over the head layin-True or false: Bird’s grandfather received a $100 tip from gangster Al Capone when he visited the famed French Lick spa and resort during his heyday.

A) True B) False

Free throw-Which Rocket center did Bird say “does eat sh-t” at the 1981 Celtic championship parade, after the big man bragged that he and four guys off the streets of his Virginia hometown could beat Boston?

A) Ralph Sampson B) Hakeem Olajuwon C) Moses Malone

Free throw-How did Bird originally injure his back in the summer of 1985?

A) Helping dig and build a driveway at his mom’s home

B) Undercut in a pickup game

C) In a minor car accident

Free throw-What school did Bird want to attend when he came out of high school in 1974, until the coach did not think he was good enough to play there and thus did not recruit him?

A) Louisville B) Kentucky C) Notre Dame

Free throw-What future Celtic Hall of Fame teammate did Bird admire most as a high schooler, according to his mother Georgia?A) Pete Maravich B) Dave Cowens C) Bill Walton

Free throw-Why did Larry Bird wear jersey number 33?

A) Because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore #33

B) His older brother Mark wore #33

C) Rick Mount wore #33

Jump shot-What southern Indiana high school did Bird graduate from?*what was their nickname

A) Bloomington South B) French Lick C) West Baden

D) Springs Valley

Jump shot-How many inches was Larry Bird’s measured vertical leap when he entered the NBA?

A) 19 B) 23 C) 28 D) 30

Jump shot-How did Bird mangle his right index finger the summer before his Celtic rookie season?

A) Lifting weights B) Playing softball

C) Playing in a pickup basketball game

D) Repairing his lawnmower

Hook shot-Why did Bird turn down Slick Leonard and his home state Indiana Pacers, who wanted to make him the number one pick in the 1978 NBA draft as a junior eligible?*what future Celtic teammate did the Pacers select instead

A) To get his college degree

B) Did not want to play for the Pacers

C) Wanted to play college baseball

D) Did not like Slick Leonard

Jump shot-How many points did Bird have compared to Julius Erving’s six when they had their infamous fight in the 1983-84 pre-season?*who held Bird from behind while Erving took several pot shots at Larry’s face

A) 29 B) 33 C) 42 D) 47

Jump shot-While Bird worked for the village of French Lick (picking up trash among other jobs) after dropping out of Indiana, he attended what school before going to Indiana State?

A) West Baden College B) Indiana-Martinsville

C) Northwood Institute D) Keiser University

3-pointer-Which sportswriter gave Bird his famed “Larry Legend” nickname?

A) Bob Ryan B) Dan Shaughnessy C) Peter Vecsey

D) Jim Murray E) Will McDonough

3-pointer-Why did Indiana State AD/head coach Bob King appoint Bill Hodges as his temporary replacement when King suffered a stroke and a heart attack before Bird’s college senior season?*what former Pacer star was also an assistant on the ISU staff

A) He thought Hodges was experienced and ready

B) Bird was very friendly with Hodges

C) Head assistant Stan Watts would be harder to replace

D) Bird threatened to leave school if Hodges wasn’t appointed

E) Bird did not like assistant coach Watts

3-pointer-What player, named Indiana co-Mr. Basketball in 1974 when Bird was a high school senior, gave up Bob Knight’s scholarship offer to go elsewhere, opening up a scholarship for Bird at Indiana?*what college did he then go to

A) Roy Taylor B) Steve Collier C) John Garrett

D) Jerry Sichting E) Mike Flynn

41 points is the highest possible score; extra points only apply if the correct answer is given first.


Layup-B) Bird was a natural southpaw who did most things left-handed, such as sign autographs.

Dunk-A) True. Bird averaged 0.84 blocks per game, swatting 755 shots in 897 regular season games. In 1984-85, the quick-handed Bird averaged a career-best 1.2 blocks per outing.

Larry was also credited with 145 blocked shots in 164 playoff games (0.88 pg).

Layup-A) Bird was homesick and overwhelmed by the large Bloomington, Indiana campus of over 33,000 students. He left campus after just 24 days. Indiana guard *Jim Wisman of Quincy, Illinois was Larry’s roommate. Wisman became best known for being the subject of a famous photo run nationally that showed Knight pulling his IU jersey hard while making a point during a game.

Lefty layup-A) True. Bird wanted to finish his student teaching and play baseball at Indiana State after his senior basketball season ended, so he turned down the unusual Celtic offer.

Over the head layin-A) True. Capone tipped Bird’s grandfather generously for carrying his bags. Back then, the French Lick resorts were a popular landing spot for movie stars, politicians, spring training and celebrities who wanted to gamble, vacation and enjoy the natural springs.

Free throw-C) Moses Malone had to eat his words among other things after the supposedly “untalented” Celtics whipped Houston in the 1981 Finals, 4-2. The Celtics also finished with a whopping 22 more regular season victories than Malone’s Rockets, 62 to 40.

A fan at the title parade had a homemade sign saying Moses eats “crap,” which Bird agreed with emphatically. Then he famously said the only place he would rather be right then was his hometown of French Lick, which elicited cheers from the crowd and laughter from his teammate Chris Ford.

Free throw-A) In the summer of 1985, Larry injured his back shoveling crushed rock to create a driveway at his mother’s house in French Lick. Despite the best efforts of trainer Dan Dyrek, Bird suffered with back problems the rest of his career, although Dyrek was instrumental in helping Bird be able to play the last half of his career.

Free throw-B) Bird was very interested in attending tradition-rich Kentucky, but head coach Joe B. Hall did not think Bird was athletic enough to play in the SEC. Bird later played for Hall on the U.S. team he coached in the 1978 World Games, where his teammate on the SECOND team was Earvin Johnson. Hall played his UK players ahead of Bird and Johnson.

Free throw-C) Bill Walton was a dominating three-time NCAA Player of the Year at UCLA when Larry was a high school cager in Indiana. Larry admired Bill’s unselfish passing, winning ways and all-around skills, as well as his passion for the game. In 1986, they teamed up to win the NBA title as the greatest center-forward passing duo ever.

Free throw-B) Bird’s older brother Mark, a fine high school player, wore number 33, so Larry did too. One might speculate that Mark wore 33 to emulate legendary Hoosier super-shooter Rick Mount, who won the coveted Mr. Basketball award in 1966 for Lebanon, Indiana while wearing number 33. Mount was so highly-regarded that he became the first high schooler ever featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Mount went on to enjoy a high-scoring All-American career at Purdue, where he wore number 10 and led the Boilermakers to the 1969 NCAA title game. He later played several years in the ABA.

Jump shot-D) Bird graduated in 1974 from the consolidated Springs Valley High School, which combined French Lick and West Baden high schools. Their nickname was the *Blackhawks.

SVHS consolidated in 1957, and advanced all the way to the Indiana state final four that first school year before losing to eventual champion Ft. Wayne South Side. The basketball team’s first-year success was credited with making the consolidation between rival schools go much more smoothly.

Jump shot-C) 28. But many casual fans erroneously think Bird was a total non-leaper, remembering him in his later years when he was plagued by a bad back, advancing age and two repaired Achilles.

Jump shot-B) Bird badly hurt his right index finger making a diving catch in the outfield during a summer softball game. He hid the injury from the Celtics, and there was some fear that he might not be able to play with it, so badly was it mangled.

Bird even thought about playing left-handed if needed. He worked on his shot even more to compensate for the injury, but his release was never as high or as pure as when he was in college.

Hook shot-A) Bird had promised his mother, as the first one in the family to go to college, that he would get his education degree. Plus he was enjoying his time at Indiana State and knew they had a good team coming back for his senior year.

Spurned, the Pacers then traded the number one pick to Portland for guard Johnny Davis and the third overall pick, which they used to select Bird’s future Celtic buddy, Kentucky center *Rick Robey. Portland chose future Laker nemesis Mychal Thompson with the number one pick.

Boston then selected Bird as a junior eligible with the sixth overall pick, then waited a year to sign him.

Jump shot-C) Rumor has it that Bird was saying “42 to six” when the duo squared off, but that has never been proven. Bird’s old nemesis *Moses Malone grabbed Bird from behind while Erving attempted several right hand punches at a ducking Bird, mostly missing. An enraged Red Auerbach stormed out of the Boston Garden stands to challenge Malone.

Jump shot-C) Bird briefly attended Northwood Institute in West Baden, which was a satellite campus of NI from 1966-83. Jesuits previously operated a seminary known as West Baden College at the former West Baden Springs Hotel from 1934-64, but declining enrollment forced closure of the school. NI then held its business school classes there until 1983.

3-pointer-C) Writer Peter Vecsey gave Bird the catchy, alliterative and accurate nickname of Larry Legend.

3-pointer-C) King initially tabbed inexperienced assistant Bill Hodges - who doggedly recruited Bird to ISU - to replace him on an interim basis. King thought he would be back by mid-season, and knowing he had a special team, wanted to be able to resume coaching the Sycamores. Watts was a much more experienced and able coach at the time, and King reasoned Hodges would be far easier to replace as interim coach. An angry Watts resigned when he was passed over.

The team then went undefeated under Hodges until the title game, and King’s health did not allow him to return, so Hodges kept the job.

Former Pacer great *Mel Daniels, who starred for coach King at New Mexico in college, was an assistant at ISU from 1977-79. The floor at New Mexico, affectionately called the Pit (and the site of the famous 1983 N.C. State upset of Houston in the 1983 NCAA finals), is called Bob King Court.

3-pointer-B) Steve Collier of Hanover Southwestern de-committed from Indiana and went to Cincinnati* after sharing the coveted Hoosier Mr. Basketball award with Roy Taylor of Anderson, Indiana.

Bird averaged 31 points, 21 rebounds and four assists a game as a senior at Springs Valley HS, but barely made all-state because of bias against small-school players from southern Indiana, as well as a lack of publicity/skepticism due to his mercurial, out of nowhere ascendance.

A 6-4 southpaw, Collier averaged 11 ppg in four seasons at Cincinnati, where he helped the Bearcats make the NCAA tournament from 1975 through 1977. His best season came as a freshman, when he averaged 13.8 ppg while the Bearcats went 23-6 and advanced to the Sweet 16.

As a junior, he helped Cincinnati beat Knight’s defending NCAA champion Indiana squad at the Sugar Bowl tournament in New Orleans.

But his post-high school career, like almost all others, paled in comparison to Bird. He went undrafted by the NBA in 1978 but later made the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, as did Larry, of course.

To contact the quizmaster directly, contact Cort Reynolds at

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