May 5 -- The ability to come through in pressure packed situations is said to be what distinguishes a good player from a great one.

A gamer. A clutch performer. A hero. A legend. Whatever you call them, these players answer the call of duty when everything is on the line. And there is no place where more is on the line than in the NBA Playoffs.


Bird at Boston Garden (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Bird dominates '86 Finals: Watch!

Bird makes the steal:
Watch!

Bonus clip, Bird's switch: Watch!
Larry Bird, one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, won three consecutive regular season Most Valuable Player awards from 1984-86. Yet, even before he won his first MVP award, it was clear how valuable Bird was to the Celtics. In this first Finals in 1981, Bird made, what Red Auerbach, the patriarch of the Celtics dynasty, called "the greatest play he had ever seen."

And it is great. Yet, Bird's postseason greatness kept growing. Take a look at five Larry "Legend" playoffs moments and then vote for your favorite Bird postseason performance.

Game 5 of 1984 Finals vs. L.A. Lakers
From NBA.com's History section:

"Bird, too, came through in the clutch, particularly in Game 5 back in Boston.

"In that crucial matchup Bird shot 15-for-20 from the floor for 34 points as Boston won 121-103. Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Abdul-Jabbar showed his age in the sweltering heat. How hot was it in the Garden? "I suggest," Kareem said, "that you go to a local steam bath, do 100 pushups with all your clothes on, then try to run back and forth for 48 minutes. The game was in slow motion. It was like we were running in mud."

Triple-Double in Game 6 of 1986 Finals
From NBA.com's History section:

"In 1986, Larry Bird was the NBA's best player and the Boston Celtics the league's best team. And in Game 6 of the 1986 Finals, Bird and the Celtics showed why. Bird helped Boston clinch its 16th NBA title with a triple-double performance of 29 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

"The player that Fitch had initiated into the league had disassembled his old coach's new team. Nobody appreciated his performance more than Fitch himself. 'Once the lights go out and play starts, the crowd has more effect on Larry than anyone I've ever seen,' said the Houston coach. 'I've never seen him more intense than he was today.'"

Game 5 1987 East Finals: "There's a Steal by Bird..."
From NBA.com's History section:

"A crafty defensive player, Bird's most famous steal came in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit. With five seconds remaining and the Celtics trailing 107-106, Bird stole an Isiah Thomas inbounds pass and fed Dennis Johnson, whose layup gave Boston the win.

"The Celtics won the physical, bitter series in seven games and advanced to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year, meeting the Lakers for the third time. But Los Angeles won the series in six games."

Game 7 of 1988 East Semis: Shootout with 'Nique
From NBA.com's History section:

"In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals that year against Atlanta, Bird engaged in a memorable fourth-quarter shootout with the Hawks' Dominique Wilkins. Bird poured in 20 points in the final period to outdo his counterpart and lead the Celtics to victory -- even though he had bronchial pneumonia. The Celtics, however, fell to the Pistons in the conference finals."

Game 5 of 1991 First Round vs. Pacers
From Pacers.com Bird-Person discuss Game 5 shootout:

"Boston outscored the Pacers 33-14 to take a 112-96 lead before Indiana re-gathered itself for one last push. Indiana cut the lead to 120-118 in the final seconds, setting up the game’s most memorable shot.

"Chuck Person initially posted up but Vern Fleming couldn’t get an angle for the entry pass, so Person popped to the 3-point line to take the ball. With Derek Smith and Bird both in his face, Person shot a 26-foot turnaround trey with 10 seconds left. Fleming was in perfect position in front of the rim to grab the rebound, but Parish jumped in and pushed the point guard under the rim, allowing Brian Shaw to get the ball. He was fouled and made both shots.

"Though Person tossed in a desperation 3-pointer from 35 feet out to cut it to 122-121, Shaw was fouled after the inbounds pass and made both free throws to finish the scoring. Bird, who had averaged 18.0 points on 36.9 percent shooting in the first four games, scored 32 and went 12-of-19 in the finale."