Larry Bird’s Legendary Performance In The 1981 NBA Finals: A Play For The Ages


On this day, 43 years ago, a young Larry Bird stepped onto the court for Game 1 of the 1981 NBA Finals, not merely to play but to etch his name into the annals of basketball history. The Boston Celtics faced off against the Houston Rockets in a game that would be remembered for one of the most remarkable plays ever witnessed in the sport.

Bird, in only his sophomore year, was already carrying the expectations of the storied Celtics franchise on his shoulders. But pressure creates diamonds, and Bird shone brilliantly that day. He delivered an all-around performance with 18 points, 21 rebounds, and 9 assists, a stat line that only hints at the impact he had on the game.

The defining moment came when Bird followed up his own missed shot with a putback that left the audience in awe. In a display of sheer will and determination, Bird grabbed his miss in midair, switched hands, and flicked the ball into the basket. This iconic play prompted the legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach to proclaim it the greatest play he had ever seen.

The Celtics secured a thrilling 98-95 victory thanks to Bird’s heroics, setting the tone for the rest of the series. They would go on to win the championship, with Bird’s Game 1 performance serving as a catalyst for their success.

Larry Bird’s play that day was more than just a moment of individual brilliance; it was a testament to his relentless pursuit of victory and a preview of the legendary career that would follow. As we look back on that day, we are reminded of the spirit of competition and the excellence that defines the game of basketball.


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