Click here to Skip to main content
NBA HISTORY
bird.jpg
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images

Bird displays court instincts on grand stage


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.

SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoJordan on the Boards
DeAndre Jordan dominates the boards grabbing the rebound and putting it back with a dunk.
photoRebound and Slam
DeAndre Jordan grabs the rebound and finishes with a monster slam.
photoGriffin Uses the Glass
Blake Griffin pulls up and banks a jumper off the glass.
photoPostgame: Durant and Westbrook
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook address the media after the tough, Game 3 loss in overtime against the Grizzlies.
photoClippers vs. Warriors: First half
Check out the first-half action from Game 3.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.