Larry Bird made his feelings known about Moses Malone with a four-letter word on Boston Celtics Day.
Larry Bird made his feelings known about Moses Malone with the 4-letter word on Boston Celtics Day.
Moses Malone had had his fill of Larry Bird. Then, before the Boston Celtics beat the Rockets in the 1981 NBA Finals, Houston Rockets center Karl Malone blasted into Bird and the Boston Celtics. During a victory party called Boston Celtics Day, Bird had the last laugh.
When Bird addressed Malone during the procession, which drew tens of thousands of shouting fans, neither Malone nor the media crews laughed. The description of the Rockets’ big guy by Bird contained a four-letter term that TV crews didn’t like.
In 1981, Larry Bird defeated Moses Malone and the Rockets for his first NBA championship.
On May 15, 1981, fans surrounded Boston Celtics star Larry Bird after the Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets 102-91 in the last game of the 1981 NBA Finals. | Getty Images/Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe
Bird had only been in the NBA for two years when he helped the Celtics become champions. Bird averaged 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds as a rookie, helping to turn around a failing team. The Celtics ended with a 62-20 record the next season.
Despite ending with a 40-42 record, the Rockets qualified for the playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs, they shocked the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 2-1 in a best-of-three series. The Rockets then defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games, winning the Midwest Division with a 52-30 record.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns, who had the best record in the Western Conference (57-25), were swept in a seven-game series by the Kansas City Kings. After that, the Rockets played the Kings in the Western Conference Finals, which featured a pair of 40-42 clubs. Houston advanced to the NBA Finals by defeating Kansas City in five games.
The first four games of the series between Boston and Houston were split. Cedric Maxwell’s 28 points and 15 rebounds led the Celtics to a 109-80 victory against the Rockets in Game 5. With Bird’s 27 points, Boston won Game 6 102-91 to wrap out the series in six games.
On Boston Celtics Day, Larry Bird blasted Moses Malone.
This battle has a lot of basketball talent: Charles Barkley and Moses Malone hold Larry Bird back while Dr. J. Julius Erving hits him. pic.twitter.com/x0XoqVfiKi
July 16, 2018 — Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia)
In the 1981 NBA Finals, the Celtics were expected to defeat the Rockets. The Celtics, according to Malone, should not have been in the championship series. He thought the 76ers, who matched the Celtics for the most regular-season victories with 62, were the superior club. He expressed his feelings to the Celtics.
According to United Press International, Malone remarked of the Celtics, “I could pick four players from the streets of Petersburg (Malone’s Virginia city) and defeat them.” The Celtics were also referred to as “chumps” by him.
That didn’t sit well with Bird, evidently.
Bird reacted to an anti-Malone banner in the audience at Boston Celtics Day at City Hall.
“I believe after all the shouting and screaming, I notice one thing in the crowd that characterizes our season,” he told the audience. “Moses is a s*** eater.”
While the crowd erupted in applause, TV crews covering the event live were less than enthusiastic. Later, Bird expressed regret for his choice of words.
“I think I was just so naturally pleased with everything that I wanted to agree with the people,” Bird recalled, “and there were placards in the audience expressing the same thing.” I became engrossed in the mood. I didn’t want to upset anybody.”
While Bird’s remarks may have enraged others, Bill Fitch, the Celtics’ head coach, was not one of them. He said that he had no objections to what his player had said.
Fitch replied, “I don’t believe it’s a huge deal.” “We listened to it (Malone’s remarks) for a week and a half, so if Larry wants to react in that manner, that’s OK with me.”
Malone was contacted via phone by UPI soon after. The Rockets’ center seemed unfazed.
Malone said, “I have no emotions at all about that.” “It makes no difference to me what he says.”
“Larry Bird has every right to his emotions. When we were playing, he didn’t appear to have such emotions, but that’s OK.”
Despite the fact that Malone won his only NBA championship two years later with the 76ers, Bird and the Celtics went on to win two more titles in 1984 and 1986.
RELATED: Red Auerbach’s temper flared when he challenged Hawks owner Moses Malone to a fight and punched him.
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