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Larry Bird Basketball

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Born in West Baden Springs, Indiana, Larry Joe Bird was raised in the nearby community of French Lick. Even as a youth it was apparent that Bird had an incredible talent of the game of basketball, being the all-time scoring leader at Springs Valley High School. His record in high school won him a basketball scholarship to the University of Indiana.

Coming from a small town, Bird felt a little out of place at the immense campus of the Hoosiers and wanted to drop out right away. Once satisfied with his decision to leave, he took a year off and then enrolled at Indiana State becoming part of their Sycamore team. Here he began to show true promise and in 1979 as a senior, Bird led his team to the NCAA Championship game where they faced the Michigan State Spartans. Another future legend, Magic Johnson, was a Spartan team member and it was at this first game the two would meet, but certainly not the last time these two forwards would play against each other. Indiana finished its year with a 33-1 record giving Larry a place in the school's history. If he left Indiana State, he left with a 30.3 points per game average and was the fifth-highest scorer in NCAA history-quite the accomplishment for the three-year only player.

Larry Bird was the number one draft pick of the Boston Celtics in 1979 - he joined the team, earning a then-record of $650,000 annually. He averaged 21.3 points per game with the team and won a NBA Rookie of the Year award. Bird led the Celtics to a 61-21 record and himself to great popularity with Boston's fans.

The following year, the Celtics relocated to the Robert Parrish Center and took on Kevin McHale. Bird and McHale are considered by many to have been the best frontline in NBA history. In the 1980-1981 season, the Celtics made it to the NBA finals, where they defeated the Houston Rockets six times to take the championship. In the 1980's, the Celtics made it to nearly every NBA final, often facing off against the Lakers.

Now at master playmaker, Celtic's coach Bill Fitch gave Larry the nickname "Kodak." Of this nickname, Fitch explained, "it is for his ability to picture how a play would unfold. He can turn a play into points." Bird's defense was also recognized and one season saw 59 triple-doubles in the regular season and ten more in the playoffs-his tallies for the 1981-82 year would reach the double digits. In the 1982-83 season the Celtics would revamp their team again if KC Jones was announced as coach and guard Dennis Johnson was acquired-this would set the stage for a winning team that would last for several years.

The team would also take the NBA championship in the 1983-1984 season, defeating the Lakers in a seven game series, finishing with a 111-102 score in the seventh game. Bird averages 27 pounds and 14 rebounds per game in the series, which also saw him winning the MVP award for the season and the series. The next season Bird would also win the MVP award, although the team lost the championship to Magic Johnson's Lakers.

The 1985-86 season also brought the Celtics back to the NBA Finals with a record season of 67-15; they defeated the Houston Rockets in just six games. Bird saw his third championship victory and was named the series MVP with an average of 24 points per game, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. He also won the league's MVP award, being only the third to do so behind Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Indeed Larry was becoming a synonym for basketball. Season 1986-87 would see the Celtics champion the Lakers once again, beating them in six games.

The 1987-88 statistically, was Larry's biggest season where he averaged 29.9 points per game playing 39 minutes per game with a .527 field goal percent and a .916 free-throw percent. After a bone-spur operation, Larry returned to the Celtics for the 1989-90 season but sadly, even Larry knew, it may be time to retire. He joined Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, among others playing on the 1992 US Olympic Dream Team where they won gold and his place in destiny was set in stone. Throughout his stoic career Larry played 13 years and averaged more than 24 points per game, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. He had a career field goal average of 49.6% and was at an 88.6% on free throws. Perhaps his biggest statistic was his 37.6% three-pointers or perhaps it was his twelve All-Star games-whatever the reason, Larry Bird is synonymous with basketball and will forever be in the hearts of basketball fans

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