Memories, Celtics style
Not surprisingly, Ainge wasn't the only one who found it difficult to stay on subject because of Bird's overall basketball greatness.
"Everybody knows the great play he made against Detroit [a pivotal steal and pass to teammate Dennis Johnson in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals] and all the game-winning shots he made," Ainge said. "Those have all been well-documented. But when I think of Larry Bird, I just think of a guy who did it the right way day in and day out as a great player."
Jackie MacMullan, who can be seen almost daily on ESPN's "Around the Horn," wasn't always a television personality. Back in the 1980s, she helped cover the Celtics for the Boston Globe newspaper and got to know Bird well. She's even co-authored two books with him.
"It's hard to pick one [iconic moment]," said MacMullan, who will serve as moderator at the Bird tribute dinner Friday Nov. 8 in Hulman Center. "The whole [NBA Finals] series in 1984 [against the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers] was just amazing. Larry put it all on [his teammates] by saying they were 'a bunch of sissies' after they lost Game 3 to the Lakers."
"You say that and you'd better be able to back it up. Some of them were mad. They didn't like it. And the next game was when [Boston teammate] Kevin McHale clotheslined [Lakers forward Kurt] Rambis, which kind of turned the series around."
The Celtics, coached by K.C. Jones, eventually won that series, four games to three, and Bird was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. During the Game 7 locker-room celebration, Bird admitted to CBS announcer Brent Musberger that he "won this one for Terre Haute," as sort of a make-up for his Indiana State team losing to Michigan State and Johnson five years earlier.