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Story of the Week
Larry Bird is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Along with Magic Johnson, he reinvigorated the NBA in the 1980ís with a strong competitive rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers.
He has won every major distinction professional basketball bestows on its players. He was the MVP in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He was named to the All-NBA First Team for nine consecutive seasons from 1980-1988. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star, including ten times elected by the fans to start, and All-Star Game MVP in 1982. His Celtics won the World Championship in 1981, 1984 and 1986. He was the NBA Playoffs MVP in 1984 and 1986.
Birdís impact on the game of basketball goes beyond the awards he has collected. He was a remarkable athlete who could shoot, pass, rebound and defend. He was a three-time All-NBA Defensive Team member. At 6-9, he could play either forward slot, although I think of Bird as the greatest small forward I've ever seen.
Bird was the first player in NBA history to shoot over 50 percent from the field, and over 90 percent from the foul line. He led the league in free-throw shooting four years during his career.
Larry Bird brought respectability to the basketball program at Indiana State. It culminated in losing to Magic Johnsonís Michigan State team in the NCAA Tournament title game in 1979. Bird left Indiana State with a career scoring average of better than 30 points per game, and a school record of 81-13. He was named the 1978-1979 Sporting News Player of the Year, and won the Naismith and Wooden Awards.
Birdís all-time pro stats are impressive; that is an understatement. 21,791 points (24.3 avg.), 1,556 steals (1.7 avg.) , .886 free-throw percentage, 8,974 rebounds (10.0 avg.), 5,965 assists (6.4 avg.) and 897 games played. He played his entire career with the Boston Celtics. He retired in 1992 after 13 seasons, the last two of which were plagued with chronic back problems.
After five years as a special assistant for the Celtics, he became head coach of his home-state Indiana Pacers. In his rookie coaching year, the Pacers won a team record 58 games. Bird was name NBA Coach of the Year. His success as a coach should surprise no one; he always believed in doing whatever it takes to win, and his players bought into that theory. Bird spent three years coaching in the NBA, retiring after the 1999-2000 season.
I am an avid Lakers fan, so I obviously have never been terribly fond of the Celtics; thatís another understatement in this article. But Larry Bird is to be respected and admired by all fans.
Last Weekís Trivia
What is the lowest attendance mark for a major league baseball team in one season? Itís hard to imagine that the St. Louis Browns, in a 77-game schedule at home in 1935, drew just 80,922 fans. Thatís an average of just 1,051 per game.
Trivia Question of the Week
This is an easy one; Iím in a good mood today. What former Supreme Court Justice once led the NFL in rushing? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.