Larry Bird, arguably the best basketball player of all time, was the best player in the world during the mid-1980’s and early ’90’s. He was a two-time MVP and four-time NBA champion, and the Celtics were one of the most dominant teams in NBA history. For the 1980’s, Bird’s best friend was a car, the Ford Taurus that Bird owned.
The 1990s were a fertile time for basketball players who changed the game in the process. One of the players who changed the game was Craig Ehlo, the first player to eclipse the 10,000-point mark in the NBA. Ehlo was a veritable clinic on how to score points, and the players he drew comparisons with were also some of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.
Before Larry Bird could show off his basketball skills in the NBA, he had to prove himself on the hard court. This task was more daunting than it sounds. At the time, the NBA was the most popular sports league in the United States, but most people didn’t even know its name. Bird had the opportunity to play in front of huge crowds that would be filled with people from all walks of life.
Fans of the Boston Celtics have been waiting for a long time. Larry Bird was the sixth overall selection in the 1978 NBA Draft, although he didn’t start playing professionally until 1979. Bird chose to return to school for another year after failing to reach an agreement on a contract. On Oct. 12, 1979, he eventually worked out a contract and played his debut game.
With a rare sellout, the Boston Garden was rocking. The excitement for Bird in Green was palpable. When everything was said and done, the game’s narrative centered on Boston Celtics shooting guard Chris Ford.
In Boston, rookie Larry Bird was the buzz of the town.
The talks between Celtics president Red Auerbach and player agent Bob Woolf to lure Bird to Boston were tense. Following Bird’s selection by Boston in 1978, the two sides were at odds in talks, with Auerbach claiming that the Indiana State star wasn’t a franchise player and shouldn’t be compensated as such.
According to Sports Illustrated, Auerbach told Woolf, “Larry Bird can assist, but he’s not a franchise.” “Geez, you’ve got to maintain your dignity. He can’t play by himself, after all.”
It came down to the month of the draft, June 1979. Bird would re-enter the draft if no agreement could be reached. Bird signed a five-year contract for $650,000 each season with the two parties finally coming to an agreement.
Around Boston, there was a lot of excitement. The Bird Watch was on after ticket sales increased by 25%. Finally, there was reason to be optimistic about the Celtics’ basketball team.
On Oct. 12, 1979, Larry Bird made his NBA debut, but Chris Ford created history in the game.
On October 4, 1987, Chris Ford and Larry Bird watch a practice game at the Celtics rookie camp at Hellenic College in Brookline. | Getty Images/John Blanding/The Boston Globe
On Oct. 12, 1979, Bird made his NBA debut in front of a full crowd of 15,320 at the Boston Garden. The Celtics welcomed Moses Malone and the Houston Rockets to TD Garden, hoping to improve on their 29-53 record from the previous season.
Bird didn’t disappoint, but he wasn’t very impressive. In a 114-106 win, he had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He went 6-for-12 from the field and converted both of his free throws in 28 minutes.
While all eyes were on the youngster, shooting guard Chris Ford received a lot of postgame attention. Ford scored 17 points in 27 minutes of action. He shot 7-15 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. When Ford hit on the first 3-pointer in NBA history, he created NBA history with one of his field goals.
Ford’s long-range shot was the Celtics’ lone one in the game. They tried three times in all, with Bird and Dave Cowens both missing. The Rockets were a bit more aggressive with their 3-point attempts, but they only made one. Houston’s was accounted for by Rick Barry, who went 1-for-10 from long range.
Chris Ford went on to lead the Boston Celtics as their head coach.
During the 1979-80 NBA season, Ford made 70 3-pointers. He went 70-for-164 from long range, shooting 43 percent. After that, he played two more seasons and ended his career with a 126-for-336 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Ford was an assistant coach with the Celtics from 1983 to 1990 after his playing career ended. For the 1990-91 season, he took over as head coach. He guided the Celtics to 50-plus win seasons and first-place finishes in the Atlantic Division in his first two seasons.
Ford coached the Celtics for five seasons, compiling a 222-188 record. He also led the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers as head coach. His coaching record is 323-376 throughout his career.
Basketball Reference provided all stats.
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During his first game playing in his hometown of Boston, Larry Bird became the most famous player ever to wear a Celtics uniform. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for the right reasons. In his first season Bird took the Celtics to the NBA Finals, but fell short against Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers. That season Bird averaged 32.6 points per game while shooting nearly 53% from the field, which was the highest average ever for a player in their first season.. Read more about how tall was larry bird and let us know what you think.
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