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
photoOpen Court: Coaches
The panel talks about the difference between a good coach and a great coach.
photoOpen Court: Rebounds
Grant Hill talks about why he always wanted to hit the boards.
photoOpen Court: Assist
Isiah Thomas breaks down when you should shoot and when you should pass.
photoOpen Court: Nice Shot
The panel debates who shoots the prettiest shot.
photoOpen Court: Imitation
The Open Court panel talks about who they imitated when they were growing up.

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.