SI Vault
 
A Player For The Ages
Frank Deford
March 21, 1988
Boston's Larry Bird, in what may be his finest season, gets Red Auerbach's vote—over Bill Russell—as the best ever
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 21, 1988

A Player For The Ages

Boston's Larry Bird, in what may be his finest season, gets Red Auerbach's vote—over Bill Russell—as the best ever

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Championships mean ever more to Bird—"His mission,' Auerbach calls them. "That's why I play," Bird says. "I'm just greedy on them things. Winning the championship—I've never felt that way any other time no matter how big some other game was. I remember the first time we won, against Houston [in 1981]. We were way ahead at the end, and so I came out with three minutes left, and my heart was pounding so on the bench, I thought it would jump out of my chest. You know what you feel? You just want everything to stop and to stay like that forever."

And that, in his way, is what Larry Bird does for us. He not only slows the world down, but he turns it back. "I've studied it," Woolf says, "and I think, above all, there's just an innocence with him. I think Larry takes anyone who knows him—or sees him playing—back to grammar school. Remember back then? Back then we didn't brag. We dove after the ball. We looked after our friends. I think with Larry we believe he'll save the team. We believe he'll save us somehow. So you follow him."

Look for the open man yourself. Fill the lane. Use the glass. Use the glass! Box out. Make him go to his left. Or just reach down and touch the bottoms of your sneakers. The game is a mile a minute. The world is a mile a minute. Even the memories are a mile a minute these days. But somehow, with Larry Bird, you can see it all before you. So slow. So dreamy. You just want everything to stop and stay like that forever.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10