It was just a remarkable and unforgettable St Patrick’s day for Larry Bird, his Boston Celtics, and all of the Celtic’s fans on March 17th, 1985.
Five days before Bird performed one of his most legendary NBA exploits – the shooting clinique vs. Atlanta Hawks in the Lakefront Arena (New Orleans), when he shot the lights out, scoring 60 points!
In the upcoming days, he followed up that legendary performance with 31-point and 35-point performances vs. the Phoenix Suns and at Cleveland, confirming he is at the top of his game.
Then, back in the legendary Boston Garden, on March 17th, 1985, Larry Legend amazed the basketball world with his 48-point outburst against another championship contender – Houston Rockets. In the direct match-up with the Houston’s ‘twin towers’, 1985 NBA All-Star game MVP Ralph Sampson and 1984 NBA draft #1 overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon, The hick from French Lick showcased his virtually limitless offensive repertoire.
That evening in the Garden, in front of 14,890 faithful Celtics’ fans, Bird, in his prime, scored at will from both perimeter and paint. With his right hand, left hand, right hand. Hook, shot, lay-up, you name it. He made his presence felt on both ends of the floor, not just the offense – he wasn’t afraid to mix it up and battle for low-post position with the Rockets center, 7’4” giant Ralph Sampson.
Bird finished the game with 48 points (17-32 from the field, 14-15 from the charity stripe) to go along with 15 boards and seven dimes. And he made it all happen in only 43 minutes of on-court action!
Celtics’ center Robert Parish ‘cashed in’ on Bird’s brilliant performance, yielding 15 out of 20 field goals for a total of 38 points and thus helping him to lead the Celtics to a 120-134 convincing home win. Bird would go on to collect NBA player of the month award for March 1985, on his way to winning 1985 NBA MVP award, while leading the Celtics to 63-19 regular-season record and Atlantic Division crown.
However, after convincingly winning the Eastern Conference finals vs. Philadelphia by 4-1, the great squad led by Bird was defeated in the 1985 NBA finals by eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers by 4-2 in the series.
Basketball Network contributor Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is the 1980s and 1990s basketball specialist, proud author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’.