Larry Bird Once Accused NBA of Rigging Their Finals Against Magic Johnson’s Lakers

Published 12/22/2021, 7:00 PM EST
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers


NBA fans consider Larry Bird as one of the greatest legends in the sport of basketball. Larry played for the Boston Celtics and remains highly regarded by the franchise’s fans for bringing them enormous success. They often bring his name into ‘GOAT’ players in the NBA debates. Larry once suggested that the NBA rigged one of his NBA title-winning Finals.

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The NBA Finals in question was the 1984 NBA Final between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Larry Bird led the Boston Celtics while they faced their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers led by Magic Johnson. Comments from Larry in an old interview to the Boston Globe implied that the NBA rigged the historic Finals.

Larry said, “Stern told a fan that the NBA needed a seven-game series, that the league needed the money. When the commissioner makes a statement like that to a fan, you know it’s going to be tough.” According to Larry, David Stern, the new commissioner of the NBA at the time, suggested that the NBA needed a seven-game series to sustain their operations.

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Boston Celtics# 33 Larry Bird courtside during the Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on May 6 , 1988. (Photo by Tom Berg/WireImage)

Larry insinuated that Stern and the NBA used their influence to tilt Game 7 in the Lakers’ favor. The Lakers eventually won Game 6 of the series, which forced a Game 7 to decide the winner of the Finals. However, all went well for the Celtics, as they won the Finals against the Lakers in the leadership of Larry.

Larry eventually retired from the NBA in 1992.

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Larry Bird as a talisman for the Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics selected Larry Bird with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft. Signing a five-year, $3.25 million contract made Larry the highest-paid rookie in sports history. The risky move eventually worked out for the Celtics, as he assumed the role of a talisman at the franchise.

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Larry led the Celtics to their 1981 NBA title win against the Houston Rockets. He led them to additional NBA titles in 1984 and 1986. Displaying his clutch ability, Larry also won two NBA Finals MVP awards. The NBA named him the NBA MVP a total of three times between 1984 to 1986. The Celtics owed much of their 80s success to Larry.

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Shalom Saldanha

255 articles

Shalom Saldanha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his journalism degree, he has previously worked as a sports corresspondent for India Shorts/Business Upturn. A Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks fan, Shalom primarily got into the sport after discovering that he shared a mutual love for Arsenal with the 'Greek Freak'.

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