Boston Celtics: Larry Bird’s historic start to the three-point shooting contest
Larry Bird, a twelve-time NBA All-Star for the Boston Celtics, knows a thing or two about the All-Star weekend three-point contest.
With the recent buzz around NBA All-Star weekend, it had me thinking about how the game and competitions have transformed into the scheduled event that it is. It has added another element of competition to the game, as well as to the second half of the regular season. Nobody loved competition more than the Boston Celtics legend, Larry Bird.
“Larry Legend”, as many people know him as, was just a regular kid from Springs Valley, Indiana who loved the game of basketball so much that he would eventually go down in history as being one of the greatest basketball players to ever hit an NBA court. Bird is known for many things on the court, but none more so than his sharp-shooter like skills from behind the three-point line.
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Throughout his entire career, Bird played with the mindset as if he was the best player on the court at all times. And more often than not, he was.
In 1986, in a game against the Portland Trailblazers, Bird decided to shoot with his off-hand (just because he could) and finished the game with 47 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. Bird was just that good at basketball.
Bird had a reputation of trash talking his opponents. But he was always able to back himself up by being able to “walk-the-walk” and “talk-the-talk”.
There was rarely a challenge where he didn’t walk away victorious and if his opponents didn’t know that, Bird would soon tell them. Just like he did to Xavier McDaniel.
Bird really showcased his skills in 1986, when the NBA first added the three-point shooting contest to it’s All-Star weekend. Bird would become the first winner of the event, and it was a title he held for three straight years (1986-1988).
But in 1988, Bird did something in the event that still to this day hasn’t been done before. He confidently played the entire contest while wearing his Boston Celtics team warm-up jacket.
The warm-up jacket from the ’80s was almost like a larger and heavier button-up shirt. It had a collar that hugged your neck and short sleeves with elastic at the end (to make it feel tight around your arms).
Needless to say, it seems unorthodox to wear in a shooting contest. But not for Bird. The way he performed in the 1988 three-point shooting contest literally showed the NBA world that he was the best shooter in the game when he won wearing his jacket.
During a time when three-point shots weren’t nearly as popular as they are today, Bird would go on to finish his thirteen year NBA career with 649 three-pointers made, which is good for fourth all-time in Celtics franchise history. Along with a 37% career average of from behind the arc.
Bird ranks top five all-time in Boston Celtics franchise history in points scored (21,791), assists (5,695), rebounds (8,974), blocks (755), steals (1,556), minutes played (34,443), and free throws (3,960). Although, Bird does rank first in team history with the most points scored in the playoffs (3,897).
When it came to a competition, Bird would never shy away and often say: “Man, who’s comin’ in second?”
Be sure to check out this old clip of Larry Bird explaining how to shoot a basketball with Red Auerbach.