Larry Bird Rumors
The performance was the fifth-highest scoring output in Celtics franchise history (counting the postseason). Thomas is just the seventh Celtic to reach the 50-point plateau. Larry Bird, it should be noted, did it four times. Thomas’ 29 fourth-quarter points were just two shy of the NBA’s all-time record for fourth-quarter points: 31, set by Wilt Chamberlain during his 100-point game.
Jordan towered over the NBA during his career, which ended in 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards. According to wins above replacement — a player’s box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions he contributes above a replacement-level player, converted to wins — Jordan was worth almost 344 wins over his career, including the playoffs. Other NBA greats like Magic Johnson (257 career WAR) and Larry Bird (256.8) didn’t come close. The next closest over the past 42 years has been Karl Malone (307.3) with Tim Duncan close behind with 291.9 career WAR. And when Jordan stepped aside, he merely passed the mantle to a legend in the making. Since 2003, LeBron James has emerged as the best player in the league — a player so good he might be better than Jordan.
Me: You told me many years ago that you really like watching Allen Iverson play because of how hard he went. Is there anyone like that in today’s game that you like to watch play? LB: Obviously (Russell) Westbrook. He goes all out all the time. It’s remarkable how his body is holding up and the things he gets done. Over the years, I’ve seen kids come in here, kids come and go, kids that don’t even go to high school, maybe one year of college. You always wonder how they’re going to develop. I watched, over the years — see, I’ve got a train of thought (problem) right now — the center for the Clippers …
Me: Do you like the way the game’s played today — the small ball, the four out, one in style? LB: I’ll have to admit, I’ve changed my mind over the years on a lot of things. I don’t know if I was just being hard-headed, because I was never a 3-point guy. But the way the game is changed is, I think, better for the fans. I watched Portland play a lot this year, and them two kids (Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum), when they get it going, they’re unbelievable. The court don’t look as small as it used to to me. They’re using the 3-point line so much, it looks like a bigger court. Remember when they used to talk about widening the lanes? But we didn’t. We brought in guys who could shoot the three ball. And you don’t hear the talk any more. But I do, I really like it. I think it’s only going to get better. Look at the last 10 years, and the jump that we’ve made. What’s going to be (in) the next 10 years? I’m a fan of it, yeah.
Marc Stein: Larry Bird has been very open about “We’d like to sign Paul George to an extension” and without outright saying it there is nothing going on there. Paul George has kind of made it clear that he’s really not interested in an extension.
Ainge fondly remembers his outburst against the Celtics on Dec. 27, 1989. He made 12 of 21 shots, made all 13 free throws, and added six rebounds and nine assists. Ainge acknowledges he wanted payback for the trade, but he still laments the fact that the Kings lost the game, 115-112, in overtime, as Bird nearly matched Ainge with 37 points. “The best way for me to explain it is, I grew up with two older brothers that I looked up to that were both very good players,” said Ainge. “Playing against them was always a source of pride. I sort of felt that way when I was playing against Kevin and Larry and Robert and D.J. [Dennis Johnson]. I felt like I was playing against my older brothers when you want to show them that you’ve got it. I remember being very excited and having a great game.”