Thursday, 8 December 2011
Larry's legendary plays "beyond" the arc.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Bird Watching-Larry's Legendary Plays "Beyond" the Arc
Larry Bird really did fly during his time with the Boston Celtics in the NBA. From behind the arc to down the floor, when Larry let the ball loose the Celtics would soar. Larry's legend never met a ball he wouldn't dive for or hoist in the air. That's why he is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.
Still the French Lick was more than just a guy that was tasty with the 3-ball. Bird's highlights rise higher than just one play. That's why his No. 33 is in the rafters of the Boston Garden.
So let's look beyond the arc (but in a different way) and study some videotape to see for ourselves just how good he really was at all aspects of the game. Here are some favourite plays that are just hallmark beautiful basketball. The only rule here is no 3-pointer in the NBA before 1979. Let's take it a little inside. Roll film.
Back in his prime Larry made too many legendary plays he was just too much, like when:
Playing the passing lanes against the Washington Bullets like a wizard Larry stole and loaded up a two handed dunk that shot down the D.C. squad.
Back in Washington a behind the back bullet pass found 'Tiny' Nate Archibald for the layup ... this New York playground legend was normally the giver not the receiver.
How about some more playground antics with Nate? Against the Pistons Larry once stole the ball and kept it inbounds by flicking it behind his back and head to Tiny Archibald who led the break and then returned the ball's favour to Larry for the two-handed flush.
Or how about when Bird posterized Caldwell Jones? He really flew and made peoples walls with that one.
Larry's always one to look after the ball and this normally results in him not looking after himself in the process. Whether it's falling into the stands or the blood, sweat and tears Bird will give anything to get the ball. Like his save and struggle for the ball against the Cavs, were it looked like he was struggling for a gun while taking a shot from some advertisement boards.
Still nothing compares to what comes next. Here's the "top 5." Run V.T.
5. BIRD TO PARISH
The Larry, Robert tandem worked so well together that "Bird to Parish" almost became a catchphrase for Celtic commentators. You may as well have pulled a cord out of the announcers backs every time Robert Parish pulled out some offence from a Larry Bird, behind-the-back, no-look or over the shoulder pass.
This between the legs beauty took Jack Sikma and his Milwaukee Bucks by surprise in the 1987 Eastern Conference Semi-finals. It should have come as no surprise as Larry was the master of this passing craft not named Earvin. He'd either wait until his defender would bite or pass out of incredible angels anyway, flicking the ball behind his head with his own "Magic." Here Larry's nutmeg leads to a perfect strike at the bucket by "big dunk" Rob.
4. SHOWING THE LAKERS SOME SHOWTIME MAGIC
When he came into the league, critics called Larry Bird slow. So how come it looks like he's running track here as he paces the break and leaves the Lakers in Hollywood as he and Robert Parish work the give and go once again at home in Boston during the NBA Finals?
This Game 7 statement was hammered home with rapid ferocity. The Garden erupted as Bird's aerial game bloomed and wilted the "Showtime" boys from L.A. Larry's play was so fast and furious that the rock didn't know what hit it. It looked like Larry was going to run out the gym or rip the rim off. If this was college game the Celtics would be cutting down the nets as Bird got his revenge on Johnson running his Lakers out the gym. Even Magic has to give it up on this video.
3. BACK OF THE BACKBOARD
Larry may have spent his career side by side in competition with Magic, but he had a few tricks to his trade to. Like this trick shot pulled out the bag. It's not just the likes of M.J. and Dr. J that can pull off shots like this. Larry belongs to this exclusive class with this behind the glass gem.
This no glass, touch of class was in a class of its own, going beyond the basketball playbooks, the physic textbooks and once again showing that when it comes to the art of shooting Larry takes everyone to school. This play against the Rockets really soared, nobody can dispute that Larry scored. Before he fell out of bounds, Bird kept it in play and in the net.
2. MID-AIR SWITCH.
More problems for Houston here with another touch of basketball wizardry out of Larry's bag of tricks. No wonder this is one of the NBA's greatest Playoff moments and the greatest play Red Auerbach said he ever saw. This jaw-dropping play could even cause the legendary coach to lose some ash off his iconic cigar. This smoking play was drawn up by the basketball Gods.
Larry may have missed at first but like Tracy McGrady's off the backboard All-Star dunk two decades later it all looked like an elaborate assist. Grabbing the rebound on the run and channelled Jordan and Julius once again by switching the ball between his hands in mid-air to avoid going out of bounds. Keeping the ball in play in sequence resulted in another beautiful play as Larry finger-rolled the peach to its home in the basket, a, la George Gervin. This truly was the stuff of legends.
1. STEALING VICTORY
Bird's hawk-eye focus was more gripping then anyone's in the crunch. Larry's basketball I.Q. made it look like he wasn't even thinking ... but he really was, one "Magic" step ahead of the rest. He made this play look like Isiah Thomas passed it to him. In the pivotal seconds of a crucial Eastern Conference Finals clash between the Detroit Pistons and legend's Celtics.
The Pistons had the last possession and play until Larry stole Thomas' inbounds pass, stopped his deflection from heading out of bounds, stopped again for a split-second that seemed liked an eternity, used that I.Q. and savvy "before the play" happens vision to reset the offence and then found Dennis Johnson for the game-winning lay-up. Like this perfect play Larry's legacy is another reason the NBA is referred to as 'where amazing happens'.It doesn't get much better than this.