NFL

How Many NBA Championships Did Larry Bird Win?

Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Currently an executive with the Indiana Pacers, he retired with multiple championships for the C’s, strengthening their claim as one of the best franchises in NBA history.

Exactly how many championships did Bird win? Let’s take a closer look at Bird’s career and legacy to put his imprint on the NBA into context. 

Larry Bird’s legendary NBA career

Before reaching the NBA, Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores clashed with future rival Magic Johnson‘s Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA championship game. While the Spartans prevailed, it wasn’t the last time the two met.

The Celtics drafted Bird, who went on to dominate the NBA in the ’80s. Alongside Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, Bird made up one-third of one of the greatest frontcourts in NBA history.

Along with being a sharpshooter from the three-point line and a fantastic rebounder, the small forward was also known for his almost supernatural passing ability. Here are Bird’s accomplishments from his standout career: 

  • 897 games played
  • 24.3 points per game
  • 10 rebounds per game
  • 6.3 assists per game
  • Player Efficiency Rating of 23.5
  • 145.8 Win Shares
  • 12-time All-Star selection
  • 10-time All-NBA selection
  • Three-time NBA Most Valuable Player Award winner
  • 1979-89 Rookie of the Year
  • Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Bird was also a legendary trash-talker. Former NBA player Xavier McDaniel once recounted how Bird told him exactly where and when he was going to shoot it. After making the shot, reports Basketball Forever, Bird was upset because he’d left too much time on the clock. 

Bird’s NBA legacy

Today, the NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. It’s become an international game, but basketball wasn’t as popular in the ’70s. The sport was coming off a damaging drug scandal that threatened to ruin the league’s integrity. To ascend to the same heights as baseball or football, basketball needed a miracle. 

The NBA got that miracle in the form of Bird and Magic. The rivalry between the two elevated the sport in the hearts and minds of the viewing public. They paved the way for Michael Jordan to step in and dominate the game.

Bird also played a big role in the NBA’s expansion. As part of the legendary 1992 Dream Team, he helped draw worldwide attention to the game. The Dream Team steamrolled the competition at the Barcelona Olympic games and opened basketball to a global audience.

How many NBA championships did Larry Bird win?

Boston Celtics general manager Red Auerbach laughs after Larry Bird stole his cigar during a victory celebration, after the Celtics won the NBA championship.
Boston Celtics GM Red Auerbach (R) laughs when Larry Bird steals his cigar after winning the NBA finals | Bettmann Contributor/Getty Images

Playing for the winningest franchise of all time, Bird helped cement Boston’s basketball greatness. He won three championships, 1981, 1984, and 1986, during his career. The Celtics defeated the Rockets twice and the Lakers once. 

Bird and the Celtics made the playoffs in every single season of his career. The forward battled back injuries during the last portion of his career. If Bird had been fully healthy, it’s unclear how many more titles the Celtics would’ve won. As it currently stands, Bird’s legacy is one that brought glory back to one of the NBA’s great franchises. 

But championships don’t tell the whole story. Bird’s rivalry with Johnson was so important to the sport. Without Bird, the league may have never taken off the way it did.

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