Bird defeats Magic in the first final

BOSTON (AP) – June 12, 1984: The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-102 in Game 7 of the first NBA Finals between Boston’s Larry Bird and Los Angeles’ Magic Johnson. They would meet in the Finals twice more, with the Lakers winning both. The Associated Press republishes the story verbatim about Bird and the Celtics beating Johnson and the Lakers for the NBA title on June 12, 1984:

By WILLIAM R. BARNARD

AP Sports Editor

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics, the most successful team in professional basketball, used a 24-point performance from Cedric Maxwell and 20 from Larry Bird to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-102 on Tuesday night in Game 7 of their series championships and win an unprecedented 15th NBA. Title.


The Celtics, who won their first National Basketball Association championship in 19557 in seven games against St. Louis, are now 7-0 as they pushed the final round to the limit.

Maxwell, the most valuable player when the Celtics last won the title in 1981, matched his points total for the season. The MVP award this time went to Bird, who played a solid game on all courts. Bird was averaging 28 points per game heading into Tuesday night’s game.

The Celtics led by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers frantically rallied to cut the deficit to 105-102 with 1:15 left on a three-point play from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who finished with 29 points. and a basket by James Worthy, who was 21.

But two free throws from Dennis Johnson, who had 22 points, made it 107-102 with 45 seconds left and two more foul shots from Bird sparked a wild celebration by the sold-out crowd of 14,890.

For the second straight time at Boston Garden, the two teams faced off in sauna-like temperatures in the unair-conditioned arena, though it wasn’t as hot as Game 5 last Friday night, which the Celtics won by 18 points. Like in that game, Boston used strong rebounding advantage and the occasional outside shot to hold off the Lakers in Game 7.

Four of Boston’s seven Game 7 triumphs have come against Los Angeles, the Celtics’ former rival who hadn’t met them in 15 years. Since 1959, Boston has won all eight championship series meetings between the two teams.

Gerald Henderson, scoreless in the first half as he committed three quick fouls, came back to score nine points in the opening 4:43 of the third period. But at the same time, the Lakers worked desperately to close Boston’s six-point margin at halftime, scoring 20 points in the opening 6:43 to cut the deficit to 73-72.

After a field goal from Bird, Abdul-Jabbar had a chance to reduce the margin to one again, but he missed two free throws and when Parish shot Abdul-Jabbar for a field goal and a free throw, the Celtics looked find a spark.

Holding the Lakers within a shot each time on the ground, Boston scored the final nine points of the quarter to take a 91-78 lead in the final 12 minutes.

The Celtics have now won 14 consecutive Finals appearances and are 15-1 overall with the only loss coming in 1958 in six games against St. Louis. The Lakers are 3-10 in the Finals with titles in 1972, 1980 and 1982.

In the stands to watch the latest triumph was Arnold “Red” Auerbach, who is retiring as Celtics general manager. He coached Boston’s first nine titles, with his last game a two-point victory over the Lakers in 1966. He will now remain as team president.

The Lakers, who withered in the Boston Garden heat in Game 5, showed no hesitation in running from the first tap on Tuesday. They had three quick field goals in the first 4:26, two of which resulted in three-point plays from Kurt Rambis and Abdul-Jabbar.

But the Celtics more than kept pace, picking up eight points in less than four minutes from Maxwell to lead 20-16 with 3:38 left in the period.

Abdul-Jabbar finished with 12 points in the quarter, but it took a three-point corner from Michael Cooper to level the score at 30-30 just before the end of the period.

Boston got the first solid score of the game early in the second quarter. Bird scored four straight points then capped the rally 9-0 with an assist to Danny Ainge for a 38-32 lead over the Celtics.

Moments later, Maxwell’s three-point play gave the Celtics their biggest halftime lead, 47-38, with 7:42 to go. Los Angeles then made their fastbreak work, forcing Boston to foul to prevent easy layups.

But the Lakers have failed to fully come back as they have gone 1-for-2 on each of their last four trips to the free throw line.

It helped the Celtics hold on to a 58-52 halftime lead as Maxwell finished the first two periods with 17 points, including 11 on 13 free throws.

The Lakers handed Boston its first loss in 10 home playoff games with a 115-109 victory in Game 1 of the series as Abdul-Jabbar shot 12 of 17 and scored 32 points after missing a meeting pre-game and training with a migraine.

Los Angeles came seconds after becoming the first Championship Series team to win the first two games on the road. The Lakers led 113-111 and had the ball with 20 seconds left, but Worthy, who made 11 of 12 shots and scored 29 points, threw a ball pass that was intercepted by Gerald Henderson, who scored for send the game to overtime.

Reserve guard Scott Wedman, who later suffered a hairline fracture in his left leg, hit a corner jumper with 14 seconds left to propel the Celtics to a series-tying 124-121 victory.

Magic Johnson set a Finals record with 21 assists in Game 3 as the Lakers won 137-104 with a whirlwind counterattack that demoralized the Celtics.

After Game 3, Bird said the Celtics were “playing like sissies” and promised the Lakers would never outplay Boston again. The Celtics, though trailing 39% to 43%, won Game 4 129-125 in overtime. The game featured more physical and aggressive play than the series had seen before, and Boston outshot the Lakers 27-12 on the offensive end.

Bird led the way with 29 points and 21 rebounds, including nine offensive.

The aggression was amplified by a clothesline jab from Rambis by Boston’s Kevin McHale as Rambis drove for a lay-up. Moments later, Bird and Abdul-Jabbar faced off and exchanged harsh words after jostling for a rebound.

Lakers coach Pat Riley said McHale’s success “changed the mood of the whole series” from basketball to war.

When the Celtics outscored the Celtics 57-37 and also outscored them for the first time in Game 5, the result was a 121-103 win over Boston and a 3-2 series lead. Bird was outstanding, shooting 20 of 25 and grabbing 17 rebounds.

Abdul-Jabbar had another headache before Game 6, and the result was the same as Game 1, a win in Los Angeles and a brilliant performance from the 37-year-old center. He had nine of his 30 points in the final 5:19 as the Lakers earned a 119-108 triumph after Boston led by a whopping 11 points in the third period.

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