November 10, 1980
He started out as if he were on his way to a 40-point night. Hardly had the anthem ended when Larry Bird drove the lane for a running lefthanded hook. Before the game was 3 1/2 minutes old, he was 5 for 5 and he had not so much as tickled the net. Five shots, perfect swishes.
But he wound up going 1 for 9 the rest of the way, and although he played a fine all-around game (11 rebounds and 9 assists aren't bad numbers for a forward), the scoring promise of those first three-plus minutes was never fulfilled. What happened, Larry?
"I just wasn't in the flow," Larry explained. "A lot of times they ran a play for me, and I really didn't look for the shot. I tried to get it low, because that's where our strength was." There wasn't much to argue about on that point. The Celtic center triumvirate of Robert Parish, Rick Robey and Kevin McHale accounted for a whopping 39 points, divided 22, 13 and 4, respectively. Parish was particularly effective in low, scoring over 7-foot-2 Artis Gilmore with both his hook and his high-arching turnaround jumper. As for Bird, he just finds a way to win. In the beginning, it was with his shooting. Later on, it would be with his passing.
Reggie Theus played a magnificent game for the Bulls, scoring 28 points and grabbing six of his nine rebounds on the offensive boards, where he scored six of his points. "Every time we looked up, he was already at midcourt," said Robey. "He's one of the best all-around players in the league." Dr. Thomas Silva sewed up a cut on Theus' chin after the game in the Boston locker room, administering five stitches to the Chicago star . . . The officiating duo of Bob Rakel and Ralph Lembo hit the Bulls with four technicals. Ricky Sobers, Theus, head coach Jerry Sloan and assistant coach Phil Johnson all were nailed . . . The celebrated Dave Cowens "leave of absence" took place four years ago today. The departure lasted 32 games.
With a starting lineup that goes 7-2, 6-10, 6-9, 6-7 and 6-6, with the first two men off the bench going 6-10 and 6-10 and with the smallest man on the current roster being 6-3, the Bulls may very well be the biggest team ever to play basketball on this planet. And they're far from the worst. "That's a tough ballclub," observed Red Auerbach. "They're tougher than their record (6-9)." . . . After Cedric Maxwell put the Celtics ahead by a 107-102 score with 58 seconds left, Bill Fitch put McHale in for Chris Ford and placed Bird on Theus. Bird hounded Theus into an air ball on a three-point attempt, and McHale grabbed the rebound. So let it be recorded that this bit of coaching strategy worked out just fine . . . Speaking of McHale, he had a 10-point, seven-rebound second period.