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Larry Bird is a 12-time NBA All-Star who played 13 seasons in the league. The one year the Boston Celtics legend didn’t reach All-Star level was when he had surgery on both heels during the 1988-89 season.

As a rookie, Bird helped turn around a struggling Celtics franchise. He earned Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. Bird made his first All-Star team and remembered making history in the game.

Larry Bird was an instant hit with the Boston Celtics

While the Boston Celtics had to wait a year to get their prized rookie, he made the wait worthwhile. The Celtics drafted Bird with the sixth overall pick in 1978 when he was a junior at Indiana State. Bird, however, elected to play out his senior year, meaning the Celtics kept his rights until the 1979 NBA Draft.

Negotiations between Celtics GM Red Auerbach and Bird’s agent Bob Woolf dragged on and got heated at times. A deal was reached the month of the 1979 NBA Draft that made Bird the highest-paid rookie ever in the NBA.

Bird didn’t disappoint.

In his first NBA season, Bird took a Celtics team that had won 29 games and guided it to an NBA-best 61 wins. The following season, Boston put together a trade that reshaped the team for the rest of the decade.

Thanks to a previous trade with the Detroit Pistons, the Celtics held the first pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. The packaged that pick, along with the No. 13 pick, and sent it to the Golden State Warriors. In return, the Celtics received veteran center Robert Parish and the No. 3 pick. With that third pick, Boston selected Kevin McHale.

In their first year together, Bird, McHale, and Parish — arguably the best frontcourt in NBA history — won the first of their three championships of the decade. Bird and the Celtics reached the NBA Finals four straight times from 1984 to 1987. He was named the league’s MVP each year from 1984 to 1986.

Bird made history in his first All-Star game

Bird was no stranger to All-Star games, but that doesn’t mean he was fond of them. In his book Drive: The Story of My Life, Bird admitted he didn’t like playing in the star-studded affair, but he remembers the first one as a rookie.

“Since it was my first year in the league, I really didn’t feel I deserved to be selected,” Bird wrote. “I can remember standing there during the introductions, listening to all the names being called out, and I felt, ‘What am I doing here?’

Bird wasn’t ungrateful. He was just a rookie hoping to fit in with his NBA peers. He remembers making history in that first appearance.

“I was happy to play a little bit, and I was pleased when Billy Cunningham kept me out there in the overtime,” Bird said. “I wasn’t really trying to do a lot. Just wanted to fit in and see how good the other players were when they played together. I had a nice balance of points, assists, and rebounds, and I considered it to be a very successful day. I even hit the first three-pointer in the history of the All-Star Game, and we won in the OT.”

Bird won the game’s MVP award two years later, but he felt he didn’t deserve it.

“In general, I’m not really an All-Star Game person,” he wrote. “The first one was great, but it’s really not my kind of game. I won the All-Star MVP in 1982 just by hitting a few shots late, but for my money, Robert Parish should’ve gotten the award.”


As a Rookie, Larry Bird Was Asked to Write Down How Many Wins He Thought the Boston Celtics Would Have That Season