Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Larry Bird turned 65 years old today.
Happy birthday Larry Legend ☘️ pic.twitter.com/R4JFihyheC— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 7, 2021
From the first game this writer can remember watching, I was smitten with Bird and the game of basketball. I was just a little guy, probably foru or five years old. I just remember watching this guy wearing #33 bury shots and make passes. And I remember the joy it brought my dad and uncles. It was all so perfect.
I was too young to count the 1981 title as my first Celtics title, or so my dad and uncles would say. I was pretty hooked on hoops by 1986, but that team made it my lifelong passion. To this day, I maintain the 1986 Boston Celtics played basketball more beautifully than any other team assembled.
The 1986 Celtics were a dominant defensive team that played incredible offense too. They played the league’s hardest schedule that season and put up a 67-15 record with a robust +9.2 net rating. But it was the way they played, keyed by Bird, that got you.
Fastbreaks with the ball never hitting the floor. Behind-the-back or over-the-head passes from post. In-rhythm jumpers. That Boston team had everything you could ever want, and Bird was always in the middle of it.
Bird was probably slightly better in 1984-85, but 1985-86 culminated in his third-straight MVP and in Banner #16. Bird also played all 82 games for the first time since his first two seasons in the NBA, and for the final time in his career. In the regular season, Bird averaged 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds 6.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He also shot 49/42/89, which was sandwiched around two 50/40/90 seasons in 1985 and 1987.
In the playoffs, Bird was even better. He averaged 25.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game. And he shot a ridiculous 52/41/93.
Tell me you wouldn’t have fallen in love too.
There’s nothing left to be written, nor said, about The Legend. Instead, I’ll just say thank you. Thank you, Larry Bird, for being a part of my life and for helping me fall in love with basketball. May you have the happiest of birthdays today and for many, many years to come!