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Larry Bird had no idea what he was getting into when he came to play for the Boston Celtics. After some tough negotiations that ultimately made him the highest-paid NBA rookie ever, Bird made his way to the city.

He mingled with some of his new teammates and did what he could to get used to his new home. At his first camp, however, he stepped onto the court and wondered if he was really in the right place.

It didn’t take Larry Bird long to turn around a struggling Boston Celtics franchise

The Boston Celtics actually drafted Larry Bird as a junior with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft. Bird elected to play his senior year at Indiana State, meaning the Celtics held his rights until the ’79 draft. Negotiations came down to the wire, but Red Auerbach and Bird’s agent, Bob Woolf, struck a record-setting deal right before the deadline.

In his first season, Bird took a 29-win team and turned it into one that won a league-best 61 games. Bird earned Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds.

The following season, with the help of a franchise-altering trade with the Golden State Warriors, Bird and the Celtics won the first of their three championships of the decade. The Celtics finished tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the best record in the league at 62-20.

Bird won three straight MVPs from 1984 to 1986. Boston won its other two championships during that stretch. They defeated the Lakers in seven games in the 1984 NBA Finals. In 1986, they knocked off the Houston Rockets in six games.

He earned 12 All-Star honors and was named All-NBA 10 times in his career. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998.

Bird took one look at the baskets at camp and wondered if he was in the right place


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Bird admitted he didn’t know much at all about the Celtics after they drafted him. He spent some time reading up about the franchise and the city before he began his career in Boston. When he got there, he wasn’t so sure he was in the right place.

“The Celtics had their annual rookie camp during the first week in August in Marshfield, Massachusetts, at a place called Camp Milbrook,” Bird wrote in his book Drive: The Story of My Life. “Red (Auerbach) ran the camp in conjunction with his camp for children. He got a big kick out of riding around in a golf cart, overseeing the operation.

“Camp Milbrook wasn’t exactly a glamorous place, and Red wasn’t exactly a gracious host. (Wife) Dinah came with me, along with a friend of mine and his wife. I walk into the office, and Red sees Dinah and says, ‘What’s she doing here?’ I said, ‘She’s with me.'”

Bird then took one look at the hoops.

“I walk outside and look at the baskets, and I see one that I swear is nine-feet-six,” he wrote. “I look at the other one, and it looks like it’s 10-1 or 10-2. Here I am, the Boston Celtics are supposed to have won all these championships, and the baskets aren’t even the right height? What am I doing here?”