There's a special place in NBA history for the pantheon of greats whose impacts on and off the basketball court will live forever. The Anthology: Larry Bird is NBA Top Shot's definitive greatest hits album dedicated to a revolutionary talent and generational icon, a three-time MVP and three-time NBA champion.
Unique to sets of this magnitude, The Anthology: Larry Bird will live across rarity tiers, an exclusive curatorial approach for a transcendent star whose creativity, confidence, and dedication to his craft inspired a nation.
Larry Bird follows shot for iconic putback in 1981 Finals (Watch)
On the off chance that Larry Bird missed an open jumper, he was ready with the perfect method of atonement.
In his second professional season and first trip to the NBA Finals, Bird personified hustle in Game 1 against the Houston Rockets when he was off the mark from just inside the 3-point arc and chased down his own miss. In one fluid motion, the 12-time All-Star grabbed his own misfire in midair, switched hands and smoothly flicked the putback attempt into the basket.
The 24-year-old Bird barely missed a triple-double, posting 18 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists as the Boston Celtics secured a thrilling 98-95 victory on May 5, 1981.
The Celtics would go on to win the series in six games, the first of three titles for Bird and the franchise in the 1980s.
Larry Bird sets Celtics record with unforgettable 60-point performance (Watch)
By the time the 1984-85 season rolled around, Larry Bird was already a two-time champion, an MVP and an NBA Finals MVP — yet he still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
For the first and only time in his legendary career, Bird reached the 60-point threshold. The nine-time All-NBA First Team selection unleashed a performance for the ages against the Atlanta Hawks as he scored from wherever he called for the ball. Bird was especially sizzling down the stretch as he buried one difficult jumper after another, even getting the best of Hawks icon Dominique Wilkins on a turnaround bucket far from the basket. Bird shot an exceptional 22 for 36 from the field for a career and franchise-high 60 points, with only one of his baskets coming from outside the 3-point arc.
During one particularly dominant stretch, Bird scored 32 of his 60 during a 14-minute interval in the second half. He added seven rebounds and three assists for the game while also converting 15 of his 16 free throws in a 126-115 Boston Celtics victory on March 12, 1985.
Larry Bird wins 3-point contest after asking 'who's coming in second?' (Watch)
Was there ever any doubt who was going to win the inaugural NBA three-point contest? In an event tailor-made for his precision marksmanship, Larry Bird won his first of three Long Distance Shootouts on February 8, 1986 by outdueling seven other participants.
Before the event, Bird famously sized up his fellow competitors in the locker room and asked which of the lot would be coming in second place. Bird posted 16, 18 and 22 points in the contest’s three rounds, even banking in one his triples for good measure. Later that season, the inside-outside threat would win his third MVP award, third championship ring and second Finals MVP honor.
Bird is one of just two players in league history to win the competition three times.
Larry Bird racks up 47-point triple-double playing largely left-handed (Watch)
With the Boston Celtics having won 18 of their past 20 games, Larry Bird decided to try something new in a way that only he could. With his squad on cruise control and a date with the archrival Los Angeles Lakers on tap in 48 hours, the 12-time All-Star decided to save his silky smooth right hand for the next game. Good news for the Portland Trail Blazers, right? Not so fast.
While he did not completely remove his right hand from the equation, Bird interspersed shots with his left in the first three quarters as he briefly moonlighted as a southpaw and connected on a variety of jumpers, hook shots, layups and putbacks much to the chagrin of the home team and its fans.
All told, Bird made 10 field goals and scored 20 of his game-high 47 points with his left hand — he shot 21 of 34 for the game and connected on all three of his 3-pointers while adding 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the 120-119 overtime win on February 14, 1986.
Larry Bird clinches third championship with 1986 Finals masterclass (Watch)
For the third and final time in his iconic career, Larry Bird was crowned a champion. In a rematch of the 1981 NBA Finals, Bird and the Boston Celtics sent the Houston Rockets home unhappy once again with a truly unforgettable Game 6 performance. Transcendent from everywhere on the floor, the 12-time All-Star wasn’t leaving his home court without some more hardware, scoring on a barrage of layups, long-range pull-up jumpers and transition buckets off of his three steals on defense.
Bird went 8 for 17 from the field and 11 for 12 at the line for a total of 29 points to go with 11 rebounds and 12 assists on June 8, 1986, one of two Finals triple-doubles in his storied career. Bird won his second Finals MVP award in three years after averaging 24.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 2.7 steals across six games for the Celtics’ 16th championship in franchise history — and Boston’s last until 2008.
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