Larry Bird played in some memorable games during his 13-year professional basketball career. He was a member of three championship Boston Celtics teams and played in the NBA Finals — three times against the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Bird announced that he would be retiring from the NBA on August 18, 1992 after a series of injuries and back problems.
Bird reflected on his Hall of Fame career during his announcement.John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Bird announced his retirement from NBA. It was a sad moment for the league. He mentioned the one game where he was “fired up” more than any other. Surprisingly, it wasn’t any game against those Lakers.
Larry Bird said he put his body through ‘living hell’
Members of the media swarm Larry Bird after he announced his retirement during a press conference at the Boston Garden, Aug. 18, 1992. | John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
It was a sad day for the NBA when Bird announced his retirement from the league. Bird had just returned from winning the Olympic gold medal with Dream Team but knew it was time for him to retire. His back problems, which had plagued his for the past two seasons, and other injuries eventually took him out of the sport.
He made his retirement announcement in Boston Garden. He stated that he wanted to be clear that he was done.
“This is enough. I’ve had enough to last me a lifetime,” According to United Press International, Bird stated that he was done. “Whatever you hear from now or next year, or whatever, I will not be playing basketball.
“The pounding and the pain made my decision for me. I gave my heart, my body, my soul to the Celtics. For the past 17 years, I have put my body through living hell.”
Bird missed 37 regular season games in 1991-92. He missed 22 games the year before.
Larry Bird revealed the one game in his career he really was ‘fired up’ for
2nd Finals MVP in 3 years, 3rd time crowned champions
Larry Bird cemented his legacy on this day in 1986 when the Celtics won it all for the 16th time pic.twitter.com/EXEPF4Vrlx
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) June 8, 2019
The Celtics went to four straight NBA Finals from 1984-87. Three of those meetings were against rival Lakers. The Houston Rockets, a team Bird beat in the 1981 NBA Finals, was the other.
The 1986 series against Rockets was intense, especially after the fifth game. Things got ugly in the fifth game, which was played at The Summit Houston. Houston’s Ralph Sampson and Jerry Sichting were part of a brawl that fired up the Houston crowd. Although the Rockets were trailing 3-1 in series, the brawl ignited the atmosphere and Houston won 111-96 to force Game 6.
“We lost our composure,” Bird said after the game, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We fell apart and we unraveled. It was one of those games when they got up, we sort of said, ‘The hell with it,’ and now we’ll have to come back the next game.”
Bird was ready for the next game.
“I can never remember being that fired up for a game,” Bird recalled this at his retirement announcement.
He proved it. Bird took control, and the Celtics won convincingly with a 114-97 win. He finished the game with a triple double, scoring 29 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, and a total of 97 points. That was Bird’s third and final championship.
Red Auerbach couldn’t say enough about Bird
Bird made his Celtics debut in 1979 and played all 82 games as a rookie. He finished his first season with a double-double of 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 21.3 points.
“Thirteen years ago, he looked like a little old country bumpkin,” Celtics President Red Auerbach said at Bird’s announcement, according to UPI. “When you looked into his eyes, you knew you weren’t talking to any dummy. He knew exactly what he wanted and what it would cost to get there.
“Nobody has ever been more self-motivated. Nobody in my 42 years played hurt the way this guy did. He did it for his love of the game and his love of the people.”
Bird was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1998).
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