42 Years Ago Today, Larry Bird Had His Infamous Put-Back In Game 1 Of The NBA Finals
Larry Bird is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and for good reason. Throughout his illustrious career, he displayed a remarkable combination of skill, intelligence, and clutch performance. One of the most memorable examples of this came in Game 1 of the 1981 NBA Finals, when Bird’s Boston Celtics faced off against the Houston Rockets in a tightly contested matchup that would go down in history.
The stage was set for an epic showdown between two talented teams, 42 years ago today, on May 5, 1981.
From the opening tip, it was clear that both teams were evenly matched. The game was physical, with both sides fighting for every loose ball and contested rebound. Despite their best efforts, neither team was able to gain a significant advantage, and the score remained close throughout the game.
With just seconds remaining in regulation, Bird anticipated that his jumper from the right of the key was going to be off target, raced to the right baseline, grabbed the rebound with his right hand, switched the ball into his left hand as his momentum was taking him out of bounds and somehow laid it in the basket.
Red Auerbach called it the greatest play he had ever seen, both for Bird’s physical ability to make the shot and his basketball instinct to get into position for the rebound. The Celtics won the game 98-95, and went on to take the series in six games.