The Night Larry Bird Proved He Could Still be the NBA’s Best Player if He Only Used His Left Hand

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Larry Bird has a host of iconic moments from his NBA career, but one of the most impressive was scoring 47 points with mostly his left hand.

Larry Bird is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. He surely was one of the best throughout the 1980s. Bird made the All-Star game in every full season he played. He won three NBA MVP awards and three titles with the Boston Celtics.

Bird is one of the deadliest shooters in the history of the sport. He shot almost 50 percent from the field across his entire career. The Hall-of-Famer could go for 40 on any given night, and that was just with his dominant right hand. One night in 1986, Bird decided he was bored of scoring with his right, so he played a whole game with his left hand. What occurred that night became one of the most iconic games in NBA history.

Larry Bird drops 47-point triple-double using mostly his left hand

It was Feb. 14, 1986. The Celtics were in Portland and near the end of a long west-coast road trip with the Lakers on deck. Before the game, Bird told his teammates and the media he was going to play left-handed. Why? “I’m saving my right hand for the Lakers,” Bird said.

Bird started the game with a left-handed block on the defensive end. He then came down and hit a baseline floater with — you guessed it — his left hand.

He didn’t stop there, though. Bird went on to make 10 shots in the game with his left hand alone. He finished the contest with a 47-point, 14-rebound, 11-assist triple-double and made the game-winning shot in overtime. It ended up being Bird’s second-highest scoring game of the entire 1985-86 season.

Bird saved his right hand for the Lakers

Bird seemed to be confident he could beat the Trail Blazers with mostly his left hand, and he turned out to be correct. He proved that night that he could be one of the best players in the entire NBA using his nondominant hand. Most players will never score 47 points with their dominant hand.

The Celtics beat the Lakers two nights later, 105-99. Bird scored 22 points and reeled in 18 rebounds in the victory.

By this time, the Celtics and Lakers had built up a not-so-friendly rivalry throughout the 80s. They played against each other in two NBA Finals’ to that point, with each winning one of the series’. The Lakers were the defending champs in 1986, so Bird wanted revenge.

Bird didn’t just get revenge that night in February, however. He led the Celtics to another NBA championship later that season, dethroning the Lakers again.

The left-handed game is still one of Bird’s most iconic moments

The Night Larry Bird Proved He Could Still be the NBA's Best Player if He Only Used His Left Hand
Larry Bird was more skilled with his left hand than some NBA players were with their right | Jack Dougherty/Getty Images

Most fans will look black on Bird’s career and remember the three championships or the 12 All-Star appearances. He truly is one of the most decorated NBA players ever, but the left-handed game is one of his most impressive accomplishments.

Bird’s 39-point triple-double in game 7 against the Knicks in 1984. The “heat game” in which Bird scored 34 points and grabbed 17 rebounds against the Lakers with no air conditioning. His triple-double to seal game 6 of the 1986 Finals.

Bird’s iconic NBA moments could make up an entire book. One of those chapters would surely be his left-handed game in 1986.