Larry Bird always said he didn't think the 3-point shot was a sensible rule. But that didn't prevent him from becoming the most destructive exponent of the 3-point shot the game has ever known.
He doesn't hold any records, although it's doubtful if anyone has bettered his streak of making 25 out of 34 during one stretch back in 1986. But when it came to making Killer Threes in proliferation, Bird lapped the field.
Bill Walton once put Bird's proficiency with the shot in perspective. "I don't think there are really any other great 3-point shooters," Walton observed, "guys you can count on to make the tough shots from out there. Many of the other people who people think about have never even played in what you'd consider to be big games."
Bird didn't care for the rule because (a) he didn't think a game should be decided at the end by a three and (b) the referees, being human, all too often called twos threes and threes two.
Monster Threes litter Bird's resume. The left corner clincher against Houston in 1981 Game 6 . . . The game-ending bombs that beat Phoenix, Washington and Dallas, among others . . . A biggie to put away Game 4 in the 1986 Finals . . . The left corner shot that had the Lakers beaten until Magic's famed hook shot in '87 . . . The four straight fourth-quarter threes to punctuate the Milwaukee Sweep in '86 . . .
Bird used the 3-pointer as a psychological weapon. He loved going for the three that would make a 5-point game with two minutes left an 8-pointer, or the one that would make an 8-point game with five minutes left an 11-pointer. He knew the three could be a demoralizer, and he wanted to be the executioner.
One of his great threes came in Chicago 11 years ago. The Bulls were making a charge at the end of the third quarter in Game 4, and Chicago Stadium was a wall of sound. On Boston's first possession of the final period, Bid sauntered upcourt, saw that David Greenwood had sunk back behind the arc, and let it fly. Have you ever heard 19,000 people gasp? That game was over, and there were still 11 1/2 minutes to play.
His favorite three? "The one in Houston back in '81. They was comin' back, and I dropped the bomb on 'em."
That was typical. The Celtics led by 3, and the Rockets still had hope. He "dropped the bomb," and all hope was gone.