11.03.2012

Bird v. Rondo: Which Triple Double was More Impressive?



On December 3, 2008, Rajon Rondo posted a triple double at the 24-minute marker of a home game against the Indiana Pacers. Rondo played 16 more minutes that night, and finished the game with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 17 assists, and 3 steals. Roughly 23 years earlier, Larry Bird played 33 minutes in a road game against the Utah Jazz, posting 30 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 9 steals. Both efforts were impressive. What we don't know is how quickly Bird had achieved the triple double. If we assume Rondo achieved his triple double five minutes sooner than Bird did his,  is that enough to give Rondo's effort the edge?

The story about Bird's near-miss at history after the jump.




SALT LAKE CITY

He was like George C. Scott or Marlon Brando refusing an Oscar. He was like Ted Williams refusing to tip his cap. He was like Lyndon Johnson announcing, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

On a night when the Utah Jazz tossed up enough bricks to rebuild the Mormon Tabernacle (1 for 22 in the first 11 minutes), Larry Bird flirted with statistical immortality and drove the Celtics to a 110-94 victory over All That Jazz.

The Celtics didn't miss Robert Parish, Cedric Maxwell or Quinn Buckner. K.C. Jones could have sent four more guys back to Boston and Bird would have carried what was left to victory.

Unveiling all of his gifts, Bird painted a mosaic masterpiece in the Salt Palace. He came within one steal of registering the second quadruple-double in NBA history (Nate Thurmond has the only one), but dismissed it as a trivial pursuit.

In 33 minutes covering three quarters, Bird scored 30 points with 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 9 steals. Almost anyone else would have gone for the glory, but the job was done. During the fourth quarter, Bird was informed (by Jones) of his chance to etch his name into the books. But he said, "No."

He didn't need the plaque. The Celtics led, 90-68, at the end of three and his job was done. Padding the stat line would have only tarnished the achievement.

"I already did enough damage," said Bird. "Why go for it, when we're up by 30? If it mattered, I'd have been out there trying to get it, but it wasn't no big deal. We came in here wanting to win the ballgame and we did. Now it's time to go on to the next game."

The next game is tomorrow night in Denver and the Celtics might be down to the legal limit of eight players. M.L. Carr suffered an injury to his left ankle and will be X-rayed today.

The shorthanded Celtics weren't expecting an easy time, but Bird and the Jazz put up some incredible numbers in the first 12 minutes.

Surrounded by an unusual cast (Greg Kite started in the pivot), Boston's torch-carrier led the Celtics to a 34-10 first-quarter lead. Bird's first quarter alone qualifies for canonization. He shot 71 percent, scored 12 points, snatched 9 rebounds, dished off 5 assists and stole the ball 4 times. He got some big help from Kevin McHale, who scored 14 of his 29 in the first period.

Meanwhile, the Jazz looked like a team of Charles Bradleys wearing blindfolds. We're talking Bloopers, Bleeps and Blunders, folks. Utah's first shot was an airball, the second was a missed dunk. They went downhill from there. The Jazz missed their first 17 shots (that's right, 17 in a row), and committed four turnovers while falling behind, 27-4, in the first seven minutes.

Fred Roberts (22 points) broke Utah's mind-boggling field-goal shutout with a driving banker with 4:08 left in the first.

Utah missed four more after Roberts' aberration, but rebounded from 1 for 22 by hitting two of the last three to finish at 12 percent (3 for 25) for the period.

The rest of the night was spent watching Bird & Co. maintain the obscene cushion.

Bird had a relatively cool second quarter, but the Jazz chose to leave Scott Wedman alone and Wedman burned them with a series of jumpers. The Celtics held a 60-42 lead at intermission.

Hitting a series of bombs and drives, Bird had 10 points and three steals in the third quarter and the Celtics led, 90-68, after three. He watched Carlisle & Co. hold Boston's lead.

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