The Trail Blazers were on a seven-game winning streak, and the Celtics were looking to bounce back after losing three in a row. With the young, exciting, athletic Blazers in town, most assumed the C’s losing streak would extend to four. But that’s not what Bird had in mind.
Keep in mind that at this point, a 35-year-old Larry is a shell of his former self, having back issues that would force his retirement at the end of the season. Going into their Sunday afternoon game against the Blazers, he is dealing with an Achilles injury. Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, the other members of Boston’s legendary big three, are also in the twilight years of their careers. On the other hand, a 28-year-old Clyde the Glyde is in the middle of arguably the best season of his Hall of Fame NBA career. But on that day, none of that mattered.
Heading into the last quarter of regulation, Larry had already turned back the clock. With the game tied at 94, Bird’s was at 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. But the Blazers wouldn’t go away. Both teams were trading buckets throughout the entire fourth quarter until Portland built a 7-point lead with 1:49 left on the clock. That’s when fans at Boston Garden got one last glimpse of Larry Legend.
With 20 seconds left on the clock, he first banked in a reverse layup after spinning around Drexler. After Buck Williams knocked down both free throws, Bird once again made it a three-point game with 9 seconds left on the clock. The Celtics then fouled Jerome Kersey, and he ended up missing both shots from the charity stripe. As the Blazers called time out, the crowd is chanting “LA-RRY, LA-RRY,” already forefeeling Bird’s heroics. He didn’t let them down.
Bird got the ball ten feet beyond the arc, took one dribble, and with Drexler all over him, put up an awkward, off-balance jumper to send the game to overtime. The ball rattled around the rim before dropping through with two seconds left on the clock, leaving the packed Boston Garden in a frenzy.
The Celtics ended up winning the double-overtime thriller 152-148, behind Bird’s 49 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, and 4 steals on 19-35 shooting from the floor and 9-10 from the charity stripe. Drexler had 41 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists, and even received a standing ovation from the sold-out Boston Garden. But their epic farewell matchup went in favor of the Celtics legend.