The 1986 Boston Celtics are a team of legend that get spoken about with the same reverence of the 1985 Chicago Bears defense, and, well, that’s actually probably it.
Other teams won more – a couple years ago the Golden State Warriors won 73 games – but still none are as revered in the pantheon of sports bar conversations as the ’86 Celtics.
Part of the reasoning for that is because, despite winning only 67 games, that team actually followed through and won the NBA title.
Larry Bird had a great season, averaging 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game, but wasn’t the 30-plus a night on 50/45/90 of Steph Curry on that Warriors team.
On this date in 1986, Larry Bird was feeling bored so he told his teammates and the media “I’m going to play this one left-handed.” He went out and finished with 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in an overtime win in Portland. #Celtics pic.twitter.com/9l7EO2OdKD
— Jim Aberdale (@JimAberdale) February 14, 2018
Instead, the 1986 Boston Celtics are revered because of the magic. There was more to that team that superb basketball. There were magical moments nearly nightly at the Garden and all throughout the country whenever Bird and co. were in town.
One of those magical moments took place 32 years ago on this very day. The day Bird decided to challenge himself by shooting as much as possible with his off hand.
On Feb. 14, 1986, Bird went for 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a road win against the Portland Trail Blazers. According to the NBA, he shot 10 of his 21 made field goals (he was 21 of 34 overall) with his left hand. Those shots ranged from layups and finger rolls to hook shots and 3-pointers.
Though, when the Celtics needed a game-winning bucket in overtime with Jerome Kersey draped all over him, Bird drove right to the free-throw line and put down a jumper to give Boston a 120-119 victory.
The Portland win was in the midst of a seven-game, 10-day road trip.
After the game, Bird told the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy, “I’m saving my right hand for the Lakers.”
Two nights later, Bird went for 22 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists in a win at the Lakers. He played 43 minutes after seeing 49 in OT against the Trail Blazers.
Come for the Bird theatrics. Stay for the Bill Walton passes. There was nothing like the ’86 Celtics, and it was because of magical moments like the best player in the game deciding he was bored with dominating and opting to shoot left-handed for a rondom mid-February road game.