Larry Bird Trash-Talked the Future Into Existence During His 60-Point Game

There are a lot of wild stories about Larry Bird. He once played (mostly) an entire game using just his weaker left-handed. Then, there was the time he threw an elbow at a coach during a playoff series.

The most impressive (and possibly otherworldly) thing Larry Legend ever did, though, was predict the future.

The moment came during Bird’s career-high game on March 12, 1985. The Celtic was so in the zone he was able to tell the Hawks bench exactly what was going to happen next, and, with a bit of help from Atlanta’s Rickey Brown, it played out exactly how Bird predicted.

Bird went for 60 vs. the Atlanta Hawks in 1985

Celtics' forward Larry Bird goes to the basket over Hawks center Tree Rollins for two points during second period action.
Larry Bird | Bettmann / Contributor

In a game that would become The Legend’s career-high, The Boston Celtics took on the Atlanta Hawks in a neutral-site game in New Orleans toward the tail-end of the 1984-85 season. Statistically, the season would be one of Bird’s best.

He put 28.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 42.7% for three, 52.2% from the field, and 88.2 percent from the line. He also led the league in minutes on his way to his second-consecutive NBA MVP Award.

Prior to the career-high game, Kevin McHale had scored 56 in Detroit, setting a franchise record per Boston.com. As competitive as Bird is, he couldn’t let that stand.

The game started like many othera, with Bird scoring 23 points in the first half. He started heating up after halftime, however, and scored 19 points in the quarter, breaking a tie and giving the Celtics an 11-point lead.

Bird’s hot hand continued in the fourth. He added 18 points to his total, scoring in all different ways and from all areas of the court.

Bird scored 33 points in just 14 minutes and 13 seconds of game action in the second half when it was all said and done. He was so on fire the Hawks bench couldn’t control themselves. They cheered and high-fived so much the team fined them after the game

What makes this feat even more impressive is that Brid ran the Shamrock Classic five-mile race at the Boston Garden two days before.

Bird predicted the future with his trash talk in the fourth quarter

Bird hit any number of impressive shots on his way to 60 points, but the most remarkable shot didn’t even count.

At one point, while talking trash to the Hawks bench, Bird told them he was about to hit a shot from “in the trainer’s lap.” The players thought he meant from deep, in front of the Atlanta bench. However, the night was going so perfectly for Bird he actually ended up in the lap of Atlanta’s trainer.

Then-Atlanta point guard Doc Rivers tells the story in a Boston.com oral history of the night:

[Bird] said ‘in the trainer’s lap’ coming down the court, which meant it was going to be a three and it was going to from deep. Then he said, ‘who wants it?’ Then I think Rickey Brown, I’m not sure who it was, ran out after him, he shot this high rainbow, it goes in, Rickey bumps into him — and accidentally knocks him on our trainer’s lap. So it was exactly what he said, it was an accident but it was almost fate. 

The shot didn’t count because the refs called a foul on the floor before the shot. Even so, the play illustrates Bird’s almost supernatural powers when he was feeling it.

The Celtics would go on to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1984-85 NBA Finals

As magical a season as 1984-85 was for Larry Bird and the Celtics, they fell short in the 1985 NBA Finals. Following their NBA championship in 1984, the Celtics couldn’t defend their title and lost the ’85 series to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Bird played well in the series scoring 23.8 points, per game 8.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He also assisted Dennis Johnson on a memorable game-winning shot in Game 4 to even the series at two games apiece. McHale played even better in the series averaging 26.0 and 10.7.

Boston was just no match for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The aging big man aeraged25.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on his way to becoming the oldest player (38) ever to win the NBA Finals MVP.

The Celtics came back for revenge the following season but had to get it over another team. The Houston Rockets upset the Lakers in 1986, and the Celtics took the Larry O’Brien Trophy by defeating Houston four games to two.

Bird, the league MVP agin in 1985-86, added a Finals MVP that seaon as well. While there are no stories that confirm this, Bird probably told some poor Rockets defender he was going to go out and win Finals MVP. Then, of course he went out and did it, because that’s how Larry Bird rolls.

All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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