Drafting a Legend

In the 1978 NBA Draft, the Celtics had two early selections at their disposal. With those two selections, the Celtics acquired two players that had been dominant during their college tenures. Freeman Williams was the greatest star that Portland State had ever seen, as he finished his career second all time in career points scored in NCAA history. However, he was dealt to the San Diego Clippers immediately following the draft, and his career came to a sputtering halt after just six seasons. On the other hand, Larry Bird was a star at Indiana State University, and so Red Auerbach selected him in the draft knowing that he would likely have to wait a full year for Bird to finish his college career. Doing so left them with more positive reinforcement though, as Bird led Indiana State to their first ever NCAA Championship game appearance. Although he would come up short in that final game, the expectations had risen extremely high for Larry Bird.

Rebuilding

The Celtics had brought in a new cast of players along with Bird, including Cedric Maxwell and Tiny Archibald. Red Auerbach also made trades that resulted M. L. Carr, Gerald Henderson, and Robert Parish donning the green and white. Auerbach also used one of the draft picks to acquire Kevin McHale. They also brought in coach Bill Fitch to try to lead this new squad. With all of these moves, the Celtics had established a core that would eventually help them rise to the top yet again.

The Big Turnaround

The Celtics rebuilding worked wonders for the team's success in the new crew's first year together. The Celtics improved their win total from the previous year by 32, finishing with a 61-21 regular season record. The Celtics looked to take this success back into the playoffs, but fell short in the Eastern Conference Finals against Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Celtics gave a repeat performance pf the previous year, only they added one extra win to get to 62-20. They met the 76ers once again, and fell behind three games to one in the best of seven, before coming back to win the next three games, with the final one being decided by one point. Boston advanced to the NBA Championship to face the Houston Rockets. They defeated the Rockets 4-2 to win their first in NBA Championship in Bird's 2nd season with the team.

The Celtics struggled over the next two years, including being swept for the first time in team history by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 1983 playoffs. As a result, Coach Bill Fitch resigned after the '83 season, to be replaced by former Celtics player K. C. Jones. With Jones calling the shots, the Celtics won 62 games in his first year, and returned to the finals to reignite a feud between Larry and a familiar foe.

Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson - The Rivalry

It was in the 1984 NBA Finals that arguably the greatest player-player rivalry began. In their first meeting together, Bird and the Celtics came out on top, defeating the Lakers in a 7 game series. At that time, there was no denying that Larry Bird and the Lakers' star, Magic Johnson, were the two best players in the NBA. Johnson had risen to fame in his rookie year, playing arguably the greatest game by any player in NBA history. Meanwhile, Bird had claimed the MVP and Finals MVP awards in 1984. The two stars met again in the finals the next year, with Magic coming out on top this time. But the Celtics would look to come back stronger than before the next year.

The Best Team Ever?

It was in the 1985-86 NBA season that the Celtics would embark on arguably the greatest year-long performance in NBA history. With the "Big 3" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish all playing in the prime of their careers, the Celtics were set for a path of destruction. The Celtics were almost unbeatable at home, losing only one game at the Boston Garden in the regular season and finishing 67-15 overall, and going undefeated at home during the playoffs en route to a Finals victory over the Houston Rockets in 6 games.

The Celtics continued to outperform the rest of the Eastern Conference into the next season and eventually met the Lakers again in the NBA Finals. In what would be the final meeting of such magnitude between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Lakers were just slightly better, beating the Celtics in 6 games to win the NBA Championship again. The Celtics only hd one more deep playoff run in them, but they fell short in the Conference Finals the next year against the Detroit Pistons.

Last Years of Larry

It was clear that Larry Bird's career was in decline. Larry was becoming more and more physically incapable of competing at a high level. The injuries built up, especially in his back, and after a few more years of falling short in the playoffs, and only playing in half of the 1991-92 season, Bird decided to call it quits, but not before playing on the 1992 United States Basketball Olympic "Dream Team" with a great friend that he had made over the years, Magic Johnson. Over the years, Magic and Larry had developed a great respect for each other, so it was Bird's honor to be able to finish his lenghty career playing alongside the other great of that era. The Dream Team cleared through the competition, and Larry Bird added a gold medal to his accolades to finish his career.