Larry Joe Bird is born on December 7, 1956 at Bedford Medical Center in the town of West Baden, Indiana. The fourth of six children (five boys, one girl) of Joe and Georgia Bird. At an early age, two of Larry's older brothers, Mike and Mark, showed Larry basketball, and how to play it, and as a Bostonian, I thank them. If Ted Williams was a natural hitter, Larry Bird was a natural shooter. In his career with the Boston Celtics he showed his form and his love for the game. A die-hard player who would play to win, and didn't mind getting physical at times.
His basketball days started in Springs Valley High School, in the neighboring town of French Lick. Bird helped the team out greatly with his height and with his shooting. French Lick had only 2100 residents, however 4,000+ would come out to see the games.
On April 24, 1974, Larry signed a letter of intent to play for Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers, however Bird would hitchhike home, complaining that he couldn't get accustomed to the large school. He would later attend Indiana State University, where he would be named the Sporting News Player of the Year in what would be his final collegiate season. In that year, he would lead ISU to a 33-0 season, but in a case of foreshadowing, Bird and ISU lost to Michigan State, lead by none other than a kid named Earvin Magic Johnson.
On February 3, 1975, Larry, his siblings, and his mother Georgia would be struck a sorrowful blow as Joe Bird, depressed from financial shortcomings, and still bumming from his divorce with Georgia two years early, does his best Kurt Cobain imitation, a full 24 or so years earlier.
However later in the year, life goes on as Bird married his hometown sweetheart, Janet Condra, a girl Larry knew since the first grade. The marital bliss would not last long as the couple would divorce on Halloween in the following year. In a period of reconciliation, however, Janet would become pregnant with a daughter, Corrie, born on August 14, 1977.
While playing in a softball game in 1979, Larry broke his right index finger. This resulted in a permanently bent finger as he set the fracture himself.
In an interesting turn of events, Larry was picked by the Boston Celtics as the 6th choice overall in the 1978 draft, however he would not sign until 1980, when the Celts signed him before he would enter the draft again, and good thing they did! Larry Legend would be joined in the same year by the two men he will forever be remembered with, Kevin McHale and The Chief, Robert Parrish. With Kevin and The Chief taking care of the low post, Larry was free to do what he did best, shoot the ball from wherever he wanted to.
In his rookie season, Larry was voted to the All Rookie Team. He would go on to be a 12 time All-Star, starting in 10 of those games and named the All-Star MVP in 1982. Larry was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Larry joined the company of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as the only people to ever win the regular season MVP 3 years in a row! Bird was named the playoff MVP in 1984 and in 1986. He has 69 triple-doubles, in his career, with 10 in the postseason. He's the only Celtic with three consecutive 2000+ point seasons. Larry is also the first player to shoot 50% from the floor and 90% from the free-throw line. Not only that, he's the only one to do it twice. In 1992, Bird was named a Co-captain for the fabled Dream Team that won the gold in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona.
On February 18, 1985, Bird shows his humility, or he just might have been really tired from his performance. In 3 quarters of play against the Utah Jazz, Larry was 1 steal away from nabbing a quadruple-double. Boston was ahead 90-66 and he would decline to reenter the game. "I already did enough damage," he would say afterward. "Why go for it if we're up by 30?"
On September 30, 1989, Bird would marry longtime girlfriend Dinah Mattingly, whom he had met at ISU. The couple adopted two children, Connor and Mariah.
On August 18, 1992, Larry would retire from the game of Basketball, having won 3 championships and played against some of the greatest players ever. Six years later, on June 29, 1998 Bird was elected to be enshrined in Springfield, MA, in his first year of eligibility to enter the Hall Of Fame. During his last two years of play for the Celts, Larry would be bothered by chronic back pain. While not in the game, he would lay down courtside to try and rest his back. Larry's jersey, #33, is retired as well, hanging next to the other Celtic Legends in the Fleetcenter.
After retiring, he worked for the Celtics Front Office as a Special Assistant for 5 years. Many thought he might replace M.L. Carr as coach, but Rick Pitino was given that job, and Larry Legend returned to his home state of Indiana to succeed Larry Brown as the coach of the Indiana Pacers for the 1997-98 season. He took the pacers to their most wins in a season, 58 and a trip to the conference finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls. Larry was named Coach of the year in his first season coaching.
Also, Bird and fellow amazing basketball player Michael Jordan have some history together. I'm sure most of us can remember the McDonalds commercials the pair did in the early 90s. They consisted of the duo playing Horse, a game where you shoot from a spot, or take a certain kind of shot and, if you make it, the opponent has to try and make it or they get a letter. They were doing this, only really extreme horse. They would call their shots like, "Off the backboard, off the kid in the stands holding the foam finger and drinking soda, bounce twice of the pavement, wander around with a dotted line like Billy from Family Circus, nothing but net." Silly, yet highly amusing at the same time. But that's not all. If I remember correctly, a game was made for the Sega Genesis gaming console called Bird vs. Jordan, or maybe Jordan vs. Bird. It was a game where you controlled either character and played a lil half-court one on one.
Larry will always be remembered for what he brought to the game of basketball, how effortlessly he could sink a jump shot, and his rivalries. In the 80's, the Celtics were deep in a strong rivalry against the Los Angeles Lakers. Bird vs. Magic Johnson was a rivalry that went back to college, and always lead to some fierce basketball games. The Celtics also had some history with the Detroit Pistons, as Bird and roughhouser Bill Lambieer almost got into fisticuffs during one game, causing them both to be ejected.
PPG RPG APG BPG SPG
College 30.3 13.3
(1980) 21.3 10.4 4.5 0.7 1.7
1980-81 21.2 10.9 5.5 0.8 2.0
1981-82 22.9 10.9 5.8 0.9 1.9
1982-83 23.6 11.0 5.8 0.9 1.9
1983-84 24.2 10.1 6.6 0.9 1.8
1984-85 28.7 10.5 6.6 1.2 1.6
1985-86 25.8 9.8 6.8 0.6 2.0
1986-87 28.1 9.2 7.6 1.0 1.8
1987-88 29.9 9.3 6.2 0.8 1.6
1988-89 19.3 6.2 4.8 0.8 1.0
1989-90 24.3 9.5 7.5 0.8 1.4
1990-91 19.5 8.6 7.2 1.0 1.8
1991-92 20.2 9.6 6.8 0.7 0.9
Career 24.3 10.0 6.4 0.8 1.7
and watching the Celtics as I grew up in the Boston Suburbs