Category Archives: History

Michael Jordan: A Sports Persona that Will Never Be Parallelled

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

Arguably the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball

By Nick Gelso

There are few NBA stars that possess the ability to have there first names be recognizable above any other name in their sport.

Today’s game boasts interesting names such as Kobe and LeBron but before they were even old enough to lace up sneakers one man separated basketball from sports.

Michael was, and remains, the most recognizable name in not just sports but in popular entertainment. His air-ness may share his name with the King of Pop and their achievements may be similar on a global stage but Michael Jordan’s ability to combine his achievements as an athlete and his ability to bolster his public image with his successes in the business world undoubtidly separate him from the other Michael.

Jordan entered a league dominated by Magic, Doctor J., Larry, Kareem and Moses. Among those titans of basketball, Jordan managed to captivate the sporting world while playing for an untalented Bulls team.

Jordan’s career seemed to reach new levels each season but his team was not always recognized as the second (behind Russell’s Celtics) greatest dynasty in basketball history.

Though MJ led his Bulls to the 8th seed playoff spot his first several seasons, a feat that is underappreciated on Chicago teams that were untalented and under achieving, his early career was marred by injuries and  controversies caused by jealous opponents.

The NBA’s most jealous superstar, Isiah Thomas, unsurprisingly led the charge in 1984. Michael Jordan was voted as a starter, by the fans, to the all-star game in his rookie season. Isiah, feeling the attention Jordan was receiving was unjust, led a player revolt in the all-star game. In a move most forgotten for unsportsmanlike behavior, Isiah refused to pass Michael the ball throughout the game.

Jordan went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and his battles with Isiah had just begun.

His next two seasons were busted by foot and knee problems.

In 1986, Jordan returned from knee surgery in time to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Though the Bulls were swept by Larry’s Celtics, Jordan managed to set an unbroken playoff record of 63 points in game 2.

In 1987, Jordan averaged an astonishing 37 points per game but was again swept by the Celtics.

It wasn’t until 1988, perhaps Jordan’s most successful season individually, the Bulls emerged from the first round of

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

Jordan holding on of his 6 Larry O'Brien Trophies

the playoffs. That season, Jordan averaged 35 points per game, 52 percent from the field. He won his first of five NBA Most Valuable Player award and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

It’s rare to have a player succeed on the offensive and defensive ends of the court in such a dominant fashion.

In 1988, the first of 4 epic post season battles, Isiah Thomas and his Detroit Pistons eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games.

The Pistons and Bulls would meet again in 1989 and the Pistons, now famous, “Jordan Rules” defense facilitated in once again eliminating the Bulls.

In 1990 the Bulls emerging talent surrounding Jordan again fell to the Pistons as the “Jordan Rules” was now a famous and effective method for slowing down Jordan and stopping the Bulls.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Michael and his now ultra talented squad finally beat the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were able to finally get revenge and swept the Pistons led by Jordan opting for the assist over the shot, made difficult by the Pistons “Jordan Defensive Rules”.

Isiah Thomas, in typical unsportsmanlike fashion, walked off the court before the final buzzer without congratulating his opponent.

After defeating the Detroit Pistons in 1991, Jordan led his Bulls to their first title.

The Bulls would go on to win 6 titles in 7 years.

Michael Jordan, a man who achieved personal stats unmatched by any player in NBA history,  won 6 NBA titles,  5 NBA MVP awards, 6 Finals MVP awards, Rookie of the Year honors, Defensive Player of the Year honors, 14 all-star appearance, 10 all NBA first team appearances, 9 time defensive first team honors, 3 all-star game MVP awards, 2 Dunk contest championships, and now he will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jordan, nearly single handedly, made famous such globally branded products as Nike and Gatorade.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

Even in retirement, Jordan's endorsements of products such as Nike and Gatorade continues to ensure their profits.

On the day of Jordan’s first retirement, the NY Stock Exchange actually took a dip because of Jordan’s effect on global business.

No professional athlete can boast such a claim.

I consider myself to be a somewhat astute NBA historian and yet I had to research all of Jordan’s accolades online as to not forget any.

Above all of his personal and team achievements, perhaps Jordans most admirable contributions to professional sports was his ability to face defeat, adversity, world fame, and tremendous success with grace, maturity, sportsmanlike conduct, and humility.

His brilliance on the basketball court is missed but his presence is still felt by the players that follow him. Players such as Kobe and LeBron emulate Jordan in their on court highlights. We can often be found, jaw dropped, at an amazing move made by today’s players while thinking and sometimes shouting:

 “That was a Jordan move!”

Today’s players may be able to resemble Jordan in their play but they certainly cannot reach the levels Michael achieved, always carrying himself with class, on and off the court.

An Interesting Look at the Evolution of the Celtics Leprechaun

Well, we are in the midst of the off-season and things have really quieted down. It’s actually been a little boring lately. I figured this was a perfect time to continue with our chronicles into Celtics history.
We already explored the twightlight of Larry Bird’s career in our post Larry Bird: The Sudden and Saddening Demise of a Basketball Legend. We brought back some stirring memories of the 1986 championship team with out post Bill Walton: The Savior of 1986. We raised some eyebrows and created some good debate with our assessment of Kevin McHale’s career in our post Kevin McHale: The NBA’s Last True Big Man. We paid tribute to Robert Parish in the post Robert Parish: Hail to the Chief.
Each of those posts received great online exposure and created all time high spikes in traffic at North Station Sports.
Today we continue our history lesson with a brief exhibit of the evolution of the Celtics logo. Most people think that the leprechaun that Kevin Garnett locked lips with after winning the 2008 championship has always been our logo.
Truth is, the current day logo did not take it’s full formation until 1996. During the dynasty years, in the 60s, no logo was perched at center court. Looking back at footage of those old games, center court looks very empty.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the taunting leprechaun landed at center court.
Take a look below at the evolution of the Celtics logo, a historic item that Red Auerbach’s brother actually drew.
1946 - 1949
1946 – 1949
1949 - 1960

1949 - 1960

1960 - 1968

1960 - 1968

 

1968 - 1978

1968 - 1978

1978 - 1996

1978 - 1996

1996 - Present

1996 - Present

Present Alternate

Present Alternate

Robert Parish: Hail to the Chief

Number double zero hangs high above the parquet floor at the TD Garden. Representing the glory of the 1980s, it’s situated next to the numbers 32 and 33. Each number represents a moment in time faded by years but not forgotten in it’s distinction of Celtics lore.

Robert Parish performs his patented baseling spin move.

Robert Parish performs his patented baseling spin move.

Robert Parish often told the media that he chose double zero in high school because teammates used to refer to him  as “double nothing” in response to his lack of talent as a tall, gangly, often uncoordinated player.

Robert Parish joined the Boston Celtics in a trade that has been described as one of the most shrued and lopsided deals in NBA history. At the time, the trade was more celebrated for bringing a young rookie, Kevin McHale, to Boston then it was for acquiring an often underrated center from a poor Golden State team.

Though Parish’s stats had showed improvement every season with Golden State, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs three of the four years Parish had been on the roster. Despite the lack of playoff appearances, Robert had gained valuable experience playing on a Golden State team that had all-star players such as Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and Phil Smith.

Parish declared, role player, Clifford Ray to be his biggest influence. Publicly stating that Ray is solely responsible for his longevity in the NBA. Proclaiming that Ray’s work ethic was inspiring and his introduction to yoga had been the determining factor in the conditioning that allowed Parish to play until he was 43 years old.

As the Warriors continued to lose, Parish’s NBA stock continued to rise.  He posted a “Chamberlain-like”  performance in 1979 against the NY Knicks when he hammered them for 30 points and 32 rebounds.

Though Parish had gained a wealth of experience playing with perennial all-stars past their prime in Golden State, it was not until he was traded to the Celtics in 1980 that he first got the taste of playoff glory. In his first season with Boston, replacing Dave Cowens in the starting lineup, Parish averaged 18.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game and shot 54% from the field.

It was that season that Cedric Maxwell coined Robert Parish as the “Chief” because of his similarities to the character portrayed in the movie One Flew Over The Cuck0o’s Nest. The nickname stuck.

In Parish’s first season paired with Kevin McHale and Larry Bird, the Celtics won the NBA title elliminating the Houston Rockets in six games.

Winning two more championship in 1984 and 1986, the Chief cemented himself as one of the most reliable, consistent a prolific centers in the NBA.

Being the third option on a team stacked with all-stars, Parish’s talent and value to the championship Celtics teams was often overlooked and taken for granted. It was the high arching mid range jumper at a crucial point in the game or a lightning fast baseline spin move leading to a dunk or a subtle slip of the pick with Larry Bird leading to a roaring dunk that summarized the Chief’s worth to the team. Such patented moves often sparked the Boston Garden crowd to chant “Chief – Chief – Chief”.

I can still hear the echoes as clear as I can hear the faithful chanting “Larrreee – Larrreee” for the legendary forward who played on the same front line.

Early on in his career, Parish’s quiet and unemotional demeanor was often mistaken for a lack of effort. In the 1987 Eastern Conference finals, Robert showed a rare emotional outburst. After four, hard fought – physical, games the defending champion Celtics found themselves deadlocked with the upstart, bad boy, Pistons.

Detroit had showed the tradition steeped Celtics very little respect in their bid to replace them as the Eastern Conference elite powerhouse. With boasting brovado, physical play and taunting trash talking, the Pistons seemed to be figuring out the Celtics championship formula.

Bill Laimbeer, in particular, displayed a noticeable distane for the Celtics winning ways. 

Robert Parish had played through severe pain with two heavily sprain ankles and Laimbeer showed him no sympathy with his, sometimes dirty, physical play.

After bumping and grinding, for 4 1/2 games,  in a style that would be considered flagrant today Parish had endured enough. In one powerful smack down he knocked Laimbeer to the parquet floor leaving the, self proclained, bad boy in tears. After the dramatic knock down Parish returned to his unemotional demeanor as if nothing had just occured. Robert was ejected from the game but left a moment that, combined with Bird’s stealing Isiah’s lob pass in the same game, defined an era of Celtics domination over the Pistons from 1985 thru 1987.

As the years past by and the Celtics were replaced by that Pistons as the elite Eastern Conference team, Bird and McHale would see injuries diminish their effectiveness. Parish, giving credit to Clifford Ray for his mentoring many years earlier, continued to be consistant and more effective.

In 1991, Parish’s fifteenth season, Robert made his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. This accolade

In March of 1991, SI finally gave Robert Parish some accolades

In March of 1991, SI finally gave Robert Parish some accolades

was seen by most media and NBA players as long overdue. It seemed as his younger teammates career’s winded down, Parish’s was still going strong.

Robert continued to play with effectiveness after Bird and McHale’s retirement. Though his love for the Boston Celtics never wained, his desire to win a fourth championship seemed to take priority.

In 1995, the unthinkable occured as he was signed as a free agent by the Charlotte Hornets. He would play in a limited role for two seasons with the Hornets until being signed by the Chicago Bulls in 1996 at the age of 43.

In his final season he would play in 44 games, making three starts for the championship Bulls. That season Robert would win a fourth NBA title making him the lone member of the Celtics fabled “Big Three” to win a fourth championship.

Parish had come a long way from his “double nothing” early days in basketball.

A career that spanded 21 NBA seasons saw his entrance into a league dominated by John Havlicek, Pete Maravich, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Walt Frasier, Earl Monroe and Bob Lanier. He played through an era that saw the coming of age of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Partick Ewing.

1600 games, 4 championships and 9 all-star appearances later, Parish would leave the game in the hands of all-stars Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson.

A career that spanned three generations of NBA domination, Parish is no longer underrated or overshadowed by his teammates.

Today,13 years after his retirement, we can continue to proclaim “Hail to the Chief”!

Our Chronicals of the Original Big Three Continue This Week

parrish spin moveWe brought back fond memories with rave reviews in our post Larry Bird: The Sudden and Sadening Demise of a Basketball Legend.

We ruffled feathers with our controversial claim that Kevin McHale was the NBA’s last true big man.

Now we are working on the story of one of NBA history’s most durable big men. Hall of famer, Robert Parish played for 21 seasons and was the only member of the Original Big Three to win a fourth title. He was a 9 time all-star and voted one of the 50th greatest players in NBA history.

Stay tuned…

Kevin McHale: The NBA’s Last True Big Man

In 1989, McHale became the first player in 22 years to finish in the top ten in field goal and free throw percentage in the same season.

In 1989, McHale became the first player in 22 years to finish in the top ten in field goal and free throw percentage in the same season.

It seems that members of the media faced with the task of defending McHale during their career’s remember Kevin’s unguardable array of moves best.

Blessed with a freakish wingspan, McHale possessed five distinctive moves in low post. Kevin often found humor in naming his moves and Tommy Heinsohn, the Celtics and CBS broadcaster during the 80s, made them famous.

Heinsohn would almost sound as silly as McHale looked unorthodox performing his art in the post. It would only take one pump fake to get his defender off his feet and McHale would slither thru a double team, on his way to a finger roll laying the ball in the basket. Heinsohn would proclaim with his raspy, cigarette ridden voice, “and there’s the slippery eel”!

Kevin seemed to ryle Heinsohn in similar fashion to the way a great steal from past Celtics legends ryled up quintessential “homer” and radio broadcaster, Johnny Most.

Maybe it was the fact that McHale and Heinsohn were both power forwards. Coincidentally, the same enthusiasm is displayed when Charles Barkley describes McHale as the toughest player Barkley ever had to defend.

It’s evident that you had to guard McHale to fully appreciate his talent.

McHale was selected as the third pick in the 1980 draft, a deal that brought Robert Parish to the Celtics from the Golden State Warriors for the number one pick in that class. Often heralded as the most lopsided trade in NBA history, Red Auerbach in one sneaky move brought together the last two keys that formed the original Big Three in Boston.

Robert Parish and Kevin McHale along with second year forward Larry Bird are arguably considered the best front

Parish, Bird and McHale are often recognized as the best front line in NBA history.

Parish, Bird and McHale are often recognized as the best front line in NBA history.

line in NBA history.

In his rookie season, McHale became the sixth man,  a role made famous by former Celtic, John Havlicek. Averaging 10 points and 4.5 rpg, McHale showed signs of his potential. His sharp wit and laid back demeanor lightened up a roster that included Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Chris Ford.

The new look Celtics won their first championship in McHale’s rookie season.

McHale continued his role as sixth man as his points, rebounds and blocked shot increased every season.

In 1984, McHale won his first of two consecutive sixth man awards and his second NBA championship. Ironically, in 1985, McHale finally replaced Cedric Maxwell in the starting line up in route to the NBA Finals.

Though the Celtics lost to the Lakers, McHale had become one of the NBA’s most unstoppable offensive forces, averaging 21 ppg, 3 apg, 8 rpg and 2 bpg.

From 1984 thru 1988, McHale averaged over 21 ppg capped off by a 27 ppg average in 1987. McHale was the perfect scoring compliment to Larry Bird. Heinsohn had moved on from naming McHale’s innumerable moves with his back to the basket and began to simply proclaim defending him as the “torture chamber”.

An appropriate description as McHale rarely missed (or passed) when receiving the ball in the low post. He averaged over 51% from the field in 12 of his 13 seasons. From 1985 thru 1988 he averaged over 59% from the field.

McHale’s unique ability to draw a foul was even more lethal when combined with his career 80% free throw average – a quality seldom displayed among today’s big men.

In 1987, Kevin displayed his high threshold for pain as he played the entire post season on a severely fractured foot enroute to another Finals appearance against the LA Lakers.

As the 1980’s winded down, McHale continued to develop into the Celtics most lethal offensive weapon. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale’s two man game was known as one of the leagues simplest, yet unstoppable plays. McHale, often playing on injured ankles, would draw double and triple coverage regularly while consistently completing the play and tallying another assist for Larry Legend.

One of the most forgotten aspects of his career, McHale made the All-Defense first or second team six times. Often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player at every position, McHale’s long arms and excellent foot work made defense look simple.

It was in the twighlight of his career that McHale showed his unparrelled versitility. Moving back to the bench as the Celtics 6th man, he would serve as Bird and Parish’s replacement. In the later days of his career, McHale would play center as often as he played power forward.

In 1993, his last season, Kevin McHale had seen his career come full circle. The years of playing on injured and broken feet had finally caught up with him. His point per game average had sunk to his rookie season number of 10 ppg. His minutes had also decreased to the lowest since his rookie year.

McHale was quoted as saying “I used to use games as a barometer for how I am feeling. Now, with my lack of playing time, I have to use the gym and weight room.”

In an era where today’s league is dominated by the guard, big men rarely like to play with their back to the basket. Today’s big man cannot shoot a free throw with consistent accuracy.

It seems the true art of the NBA big man may have retired when McHale’s career ended.

Highly touted as the best low post player in NBA history, in recent years, Kevin McHale’s arsenal of low post moves has been much forgotten and rarely discussed.

Larry Bird: The Sudden and Saddening Demise of a Basketball Legend.

Game 6 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals…

Isiah Thomas and company finally figured out how to put a stop to the Boston Celtics reign over the Eastern Conference in the 1980s. The Silverdome crowd had stormed the court before time had clicked off the game clock.

As the teams reset for free throws, Larry Bird and company were escorted back to the locker room for security purposes with disappointment painted on their faces.

Statically, Larry Bird had just finished his most productive season (29.9 ppg, 52 FG%, 92 FT%, 9 rpg, 6 apg) in the NBA. However, something was noticeably wrong with Larry during the playoffs. Bird, though never a fast player, always displayed quickness while being light on his toes. During this post season Larry’s feet looked very heavy. He often looked distracted and out of the flow of the offense. On many occasions, Bird rushed his shot and, dare I say, even forced more then a few bad shots.

Uncharacteristically his points, rebounds and field goal percentage drastically dropped in the postseason.

Many heralded the Detroit defense for holding Larry to 10 ppg in the conference finals. What many didn’t know was that Larry Bird was hampered by painful bones spurs in both feet.

For the first time in 4 seasons, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics would not advance to the NBA Finals.

As the 1989 season began the Boston Celtics kept their starting five intact but with little bench help added it looked as if Bird would be, once again, forced to play extended minutes. After just 6 games, Larry elected to have surgery on his feet that would sideline him for the rest of the season.

As a Celtics fan, it was humbling to watch my team only qualify as the 8th seed for the playoffs. It was even more humbling to see, the normally larger then life, Larry Bird in foot casts on the bench for those playoff games.

The Detroit Pistons swept Boston 3-0.

As the 89-90 season began excitement was mounting in the Boston area as Bird was returning to the active duty list with two new feet. Many questions surrounded Bird’s return. Would he still have his deadly jump shot? Could he still play the extended minutes? Would he be able to lead his Celtics to one more championship run?

In 1989 the Boston Celtics were an aging roster. Management had shipped the youngest member of the starting five, Danny Ainge, off to Sacramento in a feeble attempt to gather some youth and length on their bench.

In the first half of the season, Jim Paxon was added to the starting lineup by 2nd year coach Jimmy Rogers. The addition of Paxon only aided in making the team older. The usually unshakable Boston team began to form cracks in it’s chemistry.

Paxon publicly complained about Bird’s shot selection and commented that Bird was “hogging the ball”. Such accusations were viewed as sinful to Celtics fans whether it was true or not.

Truth be told, Larry was forcing poor shots as a result of the team’s lack of offensive chemistry. Roger’s was pushing an uptempo style of play with a 35 year old point guard. As a result, and to Bird’s discord, Dennis Johnson was forced to the bench being replaced by an over weight play maker named John Bagley.

Though after the all-star break Bird showed signs of his old self, his quickness and ability to create his own shots, displayed prior to 1988, never returned. Larry Bird averaged a respectable 24 ppg but he shot, a career low, 47% from the field.

As the playoffs began Boston blew out the Knicks in the first two games at Boston Garden leading people to believe that one more championship run may be possible. Fans enthusiasm was only turned back as the Celtics blew the next two games in New York. Game 5 was set up on a Sunday afternoon in Boston. Everyone expected the Celtics to win the series clinching game in their usual dramatic fashion.

The stars were not aligned in 1989 as the Knicks eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs on their home court. Bird recounted this loss as one of his worst.

The humiliating defeat prompted the organization to make some major changes. Red Auerbach brought in Dave Gavit as director of basketball operation. In his first move, Jim Paxon was released and Jimmy Rogers was replaced by long time assistant coach and player, Chris Ford.

In a controversial move that was described as Boston’s “fresh start”, Gavit released Dennis Johnson and forced Brian Shaw to return from Italy and fulfill his contract obligations as the Celtics point guard.

Johnson’s release prompted Larry Bird to publicly comment that with DJ exiting he would be forced to play full time “point forward” and he had no interest in that role. It seemed that the controversy surrounding the 89-90 season was starting to bleed into the “fresh start” season of 90-91.

As the season began, Chris Ford preached an uptempo style that would highlight the youthful additions of Brian Shaw and rookie Dee Brown. Reggie Lewis was also emerging as a bright young star. Bird’s doubt continued to be clear as he told the media that “uptempo is our motto at the start of every season” implying that the Celtics would fall back into their methodical half court style of play.

Ford, unlike Rogers before him, had the guts to stand up to Bird and recanted Larry’s claims by stating that his team will play uptempo regardless of Bird’s doubts.

The drama that began the season had formulated into an uptempo 29-5 start putting Boston at the top of the Eastern Conference. The youth of Reggie, Dee and Brian seemed to rejuvenate Bird, Parish and McHale.

Though Bird’s offensive efficiency was not consistent, he had developed into (and embraced) the role of power forward that would run the offense. Bird became less of a scorer, diverting that role to mainly Lewis and McHale, and more of a play maker.

In mid December as basketball critic were hailing the Celtics as the favorites to win the championship, they embarked on a road game to Madison Square Garden. In the pre-game press conference it was announced that Larry Bird would not play due to a sore back. At that moment, no one knew that this would be the injury that would ultimately end Larry’s career.

Bird would miss twenty two of the next forty eight games leading up to the playoffs. In the games he did play in, Bird had people scratching their heads in disbelief at Larry’s lack of mobility and inability to shoot efficiently. Bird would finish the season with a career low 45% field goal percentage.

Though Larry’s scoring abilities had been challenged, his leadership abilities had never been more evident. His team relied on him more then ever to run the offense. It seemed when Bird went to the bench, the Celtics would lose leads or fall further behind.

Bird’s ability to morph his game from the team’s primary scorer to the teams primary rebounder/distributor has gone unnoticed as the years have gone by.

The 1991 NBA playoffs began as Bird was visibly in discomfort. The media and all spectators marveled at Larry-Legend’s ability to play in severe pain.

Bird’s ability to step up to challenging opponents helped to coin his legendary nickname. 1991 was no different. The upstart Indiana Pacers and Chuck Person presented his most formidable and brazen opponent in some time. Person had publicly stated that he had no great respect or fear for Larry Bird. That Bird was in the twilight of his career and posed no threat for Person to defend him.

The severely injured Bird responded with a triple double in Boston’s game one victory and then spent the night in traction at the hospital.

On the day he was released from the hospital, Larry suited up and played in game 2. Boston lost that game at home.

Splitting the next two games in Indiana, Bird was in unfamiliar territory as his home town crowd booed him every time he touched the ball.

Returning to Boston for game 5 and still tasting the loss to New York one year earlier, Bird guaranteed a Celtics victory. Boston built a fourteen point first half lead when disaster struck.

Chasing a loose ball, Bird was knocked to the ground slamming his face off the parquet floor. After gathering himself on the court, Bird walked back to the locker room. It was uncertain if Bird would return.

While sidelined with a broken cheek bone, Bird watched his team squander their lead. As the third quarter wore on, it looked as if the Pacers were gaining momentum and the Celtics were bewildered without their legendary floor leader.

At the midway point of the third quarter Larry Bird re-entered the game. To the delight of the Garden crowd, Bird scored 14 points in the remaining minutes of the quarter. Bird, in customary fashion, created the spark to carry Boston to victory while proving that he can still take over games even while in severe back pain.

Boston once again fell to the Detroit Pistons in 6 games in the conference semifinals. Bird, contemplating retirement, decided to undergo back surgery to relieve the bulging disc that plagued him all season long.

Many have regarded Bird’s game 5 heroics against the Pacers to be his final act in a 13 year drama.

The 91-92 season began as a streamlined Bird looked to be mobile, healthy and in great shape. He proclaimed that he felt better the ever only to find himself struck down by the same back issues that had forced him to have surgery several months earlier.

Forced to wear a cumbersome brace on his back while playing, he was only a shadow of his former self. The team had adjusted to the inevitable replacement of Reggie Lewis as the teams primary scorer.

The chants of “Larr-yyy, Larr-yyy” had been replaced by chants of “Regg-ie, Regg-ie” at the Garden. Though the team torch had obviously been passed, the fans always held Bird closest to their hearts.

On August 8, 1992 Larry Bird would announce his retirement from basketball. Always a man of his word, Bird promised to fulfill the remainder of his contract in the team front office. Bird would end his career with the same class and grace that he had played with throughout his thirteen years in basketball.

Larry Bird will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. It takes one to watch Bird day in and day out to truly realize the impact this man has had upon basketball. His intangibles can never be recounted with words nor highlights. His desire to compete, determination to be the best and ability to play in pain to achieve those goals cannot be recounted with words or highlights.

I am proud to say that I grew up in the Larry Bird era. I spent many spring evenings with my big brother watching Larry and Magic Johnson duke it out in the NBA Finals. I am fortunate and I am proud to have witnessed it.

It was at the end of his career, when adversity mounted, that Larry Bird showed just how much he would give to win ball games. Though his statistics had dimmed, it was during these moments that his legend grew. These moment must never be forgotten.

Thank you Larry Legend!

Should NBA Players Be Allowed To Compete in the Olympics?

I think a player’s team has the right to say NO.

Though I am very proud to be an American and very patriotic, I do not feel that the Olympics should trump a team’s right to deny a player approval over it’s players desire to play in the Olympics.

The NBA is a business like any other. When a team is paying it’s stars 20+ million, such as with Kobe Bryant, a team has hinged it’s entire financial future on that player. Finances have become (almost) as big a part of the game as the talent level of it’s players. A serious injury to Kobe during the summer of 2008 could have wiped away the Lakers chance at winning their 15th title. I am not even going to dive into the amount of play Kobe had between the 2008 NBA finals and the Olympics before even lacing up for the 2009 season.

With that in mind, I do not think it is unreasonable for NBA teams to put stipulations in it’s STARS contracts to ban them from competing in the Olympics. Though in recent years, the USA has not held up well against the world’s competition, their is no question that, win or loss, the USA has the best basketball players in the world. I would be lying if I said that i didn’t enjoy watching the redeem team blow through the rest of the world’s competition, however, I would not risk the health of my superstar to stroke my own (or his) ego.

Prior to the original Dream Team’s bid to bring glory back to USA basketball, NBA players were not allowed to compete. We all knew that no team in the world could play with the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, etc. Whether our team consisted of NBA legends or college stars, their was no question that as a whole the USA controlled the market on basketball.

I loved watching the Dream Team destroy the rest of the world in 1992. Let’s face it though, that team was more of a traveling celebrity tour then it was a determined basketball team. I found more entertainment value in watching Bird, Magic and Michael in a photo shoot or Barkley and Ewing hamming it up on the bus trips then the actual play on the court. Their is no doubt that watching the US destroy the rest of the world’s opponents by 50 points was fun the first 5 games but it became expected after the 5th game, not to imply it was any less fun, it was just expected.

It was fun watching the opposing team looking at Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson goofing off during warm ups in complete amazement. It was great for my ego as a proud American who loves basketball.

So.. should NBA teams have the right to stop it’s stars from playing in the Olympics?

I do not feel that NBA players should be banned from competition completely but I do believe that a team should reserve the right to stop it’s stars from playing with contract stipulations.

Take Yao Ming for example. Yao competed in the 2008 Olympics only to see them lose to Lithuania. Yao, and his 2009 (15 million dollar) pay check, returned to Houston only to have another (possibly) career ending injury strike him down in the playoffs as the Rockets were looking to upset the Lakers.

Should the Rockets have a right to say “if I am paying you 14 million dollars I do not want you to wear any other uniform then our Rockets”?

I say yes. What do you say?