“It was just awe-inspiring to be in his presence.”
‘He should have got 60’
Quinn Buckner, a Celtics guard for three seasons (1982-85) and a member of their ‘84 NBA championship team, didn’t go as far as Walton in making Bird sound like he walks on water. But Buckner had no problem with praising Bird’s court skills.
“What stands out about Larry Bird is how easy he made the game look,” the former Indiana University star said. “By the time I got to the Celtics, I had played [in the NBA] for six years. So I was familiar with how hard the game was. What amazed me was when there were difficult plays to be made, Larry made them consistently and he made them look easy. For a game thatÂ¹s predicated on Å’how quickly can you get there?Â¹ and Å’how high can you jump when you get there?Â¹ â€¹ not seeing that [from Bird] and then seeing the end result of what he brought to the table â€¹ it was fantastic. Not exceptional, but exceptionally fantastic. It was unbelievable.Â²
Buckner, who will join MacMullan and Walton for the statue dedication in Terre Haute, admitted that heÂ¹s stating the obvious when rattling off BirdÂ¹s basketball talents.
“He was a dead-eye shooter, a terrific passer, a terrific team defensive player,” Buckner noted. “But what he had the ability to do was make everybody better and that’s rare. That’ s rare not just for Terre Haute, but anywhere you go. I don’t care what business you’re in. That’s just rare.”
Back to that Bird/iconic-moment subject, Buckner eventually mentioned one that came to mind.
To set up his story, keep in mind that McHale set a Celtics single-game scoring record by burning the Detroit Pistons for 56 points March 3, 1985. Then on March 12, just nine days later, Bird broke McHale’s record by pumping in 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks.