Posted Mar 4 2013 4:28PM
Few players ever have had an instinct for the game of basketball to match that of Larry Bird, and rarely was that instinct better reflected than in a play he made during the opening game of the 1981 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets.
The upstart Rockets, led by Moses Malone, led 57-51 at halftime and the game was still close in the fourth quarter when Bird sank what Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach called "the one best shot I've ever seen a player make."
Bird lofted an 18-foot jumper from the right side, and as soon as it left his hands he knew it would miss. Anticipating it would bounce off the rim to the right, Bird raced into position to grab the rebounding before the ball ever reached the basket, and was in just the right spot when the ball caromed toward the right baseline.
He grabbed the rebound on the run with his right hand and while in midair, with his momentum about to take him behind the backboard and out of bounds, he switched the ball into his left hand and somehow scooped it into the hoop. Boston Garden erupted in cheers and the Celtics went on to win the game 98-95, and the championship in six games.
"That is the greatest play I've ever seen. Larry Bird is a player of destiny," said Auerbach.
|The Daily Zap: March 11|
Check out the scores and highlights from a seven-game night in the NBA.
|Dirk Ties Havlicek|
Dirk Nowitzki ties John Havlicek for 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
|Top 10: March 11|
Countdown the best plays from Tuesday night.
|Warriors Whip Mavs for 5th Straight Win |
Jordan Crawford scores 19 points and the surging Warriors route the Mavericks 108-85 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
|Martin Punishes Udoh|
Kevin Martin takes the feed from Kevin Love and punishes Ekpe Udoh with the two-handed crusher.