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Bird, Larry


 

 

 

 

 Bird, Larry (1956- ), American basketball player and coach, one of the greatest all-around performers in the sportís history. Bird was born in French Lick, Indiana. A star on his high school basketball team, he attended Indiana State University and was named collegiate player of the year in his last season (1979). He then joined the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He led the Celtics to a first-place finish in their division and was named rookie of the year in 1980. 

The 6-ft 9-in (2.1-m) Bird, who played as a forward, led the Celtics to NBA championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986. He was a frequent starter in the NBA All-Star Game, and he excelled as a shooter, rebounder, and passer. He was named the NBAís most valuable player (MVP) in 1984, 1985, and 1986.

Throughout the 1980s Bird shared the spotlight as best player in the NBA with Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. Both players led their teams to multiple championships, and they are widely recognized as the two dominant players of the decade. With their well-publicized rivalry, Bird and Johnson are credited with helping revitalize interest in the NBA.

From the late 1980s until his retirement in 1992, Birdís playing time was limited by back injuries and other ailments. In 1992 he won a gold medal as a member of the United States basketball team, known as the Dream Team, at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. After retiring, Bird worked as an executive with the Celtics. He was named head coach of the Indiana Pacers in 1997, and earned coach of the year honors for leading the club to a 58-24 win-loss record during the regular season. In the postseason the Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Chicago Bulls, 4 games to 3.

 In 1998 Bird was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions as a player. In the 1999-2000 season he coached the Pacers to their first NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. After the season, Bird stepped down as coach to pursue other interests.