“Tomorrow night’s the last game of the trip; I’m going to play this one left-handed”

“Tomorrow night’s the last game of the trip; I’m going to play this one left-handed”

The career of Larry Bird is full of impressive accomplishments: Back-to-back-to-back NBA MVP awards from 1984 to 1986, three NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, twelve NBA-All Star appearances, NBA Coach of the Year in 1998, and NBA Executive of the Year in 2012. However, despite all of these accolades, one of Bird’s most impressive performances came on a quiet, Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 14, 1986.

The Celtics came into Portland winning 14 of their last 15 games, despite McHale being injured for 9 of those games. At this point, the game got a little bit too easy and boring for Bird, so he decided to challenge himself by finishing every basket (other than a jump shot) with his left hand. He ended up scoring 20 points with his left hand, nearly half his total.

Despite all this, Bird still scored 47 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out 11 assists (21-34 FG). Bird hit every three-pointer he took. For good measure, he hit the game-tying shot to send the game to OT and then made the game-winning shot.

Bill Walton — Larry’s teammate in Boston at the time later recalled:

At the end of one of the trips, he had accomplished every goal, we hadn’t lost a game on the trip, and Larry told all of us players and the media too, we were all standing around waiting to leave, he said, ‘Tomorrow night’s the last game of the trip, I’m going to play this one left-handed, at least through three quarters”

When asked by reporters in the postgame press conference, why he decided to score so much with his left-hand Bird replied,

I’m saving my right hand for the Lakers.

The Celtics faced the Lakers two days later later. Bird put up 22 points and 18 rebounds in a win for Boston, so you could say his right hand was well-rested.