“I remember after Kevin scored his 56 points, someone asked Larry what he thought of Kevin getting 56 and he said,” ‘He should have got 60,’ Buckner recalled. “Then Larry goes out and gets that number a few days later. It was one of those things where you just had to kinda laugh, knowing Larry.”
Beating Isiah, Ewing & ‘Nique
Of all the people interviewed for this story, MacMullan was the one who consistently followed the intended theme and listed several specific iconic on-the-court moments.
In addition to her 1984 NBA Finals memories of Bird, here are a few more from an award-winning journalist:
One occurred in Game 5 of the 1987 NBA Eastern Conference finals against the “bad boy” Pistons, a play that Ainge touched on earlier in this story.
Trailing 107-106 with five seconds left and the Celtics threatening to fall behind 3-2 in the series, Bird stole an inbounds pass from Detroit’s Isiah Thomas and dished it off to Dennis Johnson for the winning layup. Although the Pistons battled back to win Game 6, Boston captured the hard-fought series 4-3.
“The Pistons looked like they were finally going to win and they were finally going to beat the Celtics after years of trying,” MacMullan said. “At that point, because the Celtics were so beat up physically – McHale, Bird, [Robert] Parish, they were all beat up physically – Detroit was probably the better team. But Bird jumped in front of Isiah’s pass to [Bill] Laimbeer and won that game for them.”
“The great thing about that particular play was – well, the pass [to Johnson] was beautiful – Larry pretending he was running upcourt. He used to do that all the time. He’d turn to run upcourt like he wasn’t paying attention and jump back in and jump in front of the pass. So that in itself was a great play. But then D.J. was streaking to the basket – and Larry told me and many others years later that he had no idea who it was – and he laid the perfect pass on D.J.Â¹s hands to go in for the layup to win that game.”