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“If you want to stay in Boston, pass me the ball”: When Larry Bird gave Bill Walton advice on what he should do to withstand being a Celtic

Samir Mehdi
|Sun Aug 01 2021


Larry Bird hilariously told Bill Walton that he needed him to pass Bird the ball as it was the number one thing he should do to be a Celtic. 

Drafted in 1980, Larry Bird had already cemented himself as one of the greats by the time the 1985-86 season had rolled around. Coming off of a season where he averaged the most points in his career while simultaneously losing to Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, Bird embarked on a journey to bring championship glory back to Boston. 

Larry Bird did exactly what he set out to do as he would replicate what he did in 1981 and 1984 by having one of the greatest seasons, overall as a team, in NBA history. The Boston Celtics won 65 regular season games and swept two teams en route to a third ring in 5 years. Unfortunately for the Celtics, this would be their last ring of the ‘Larry legend’ era.

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Prior to the 1985-86 season commencing, the Celtics looked to surround Larry Bird with players that have a bit more championship equity. So, this resulted in a Bill Walton acquisition. 

Larry Bird gave Bill Walton some hilariously simple advice on how to be a Celtic. 

Bill Walton had the highest of highs during the 1977 regular season when his Portland Trailblazers won it all with him being the best player on the team. From then onwards, the big-man would suffer injuries to his foot several times, keeping him sidelined for entire seasons. This didn’t stop the Celtics from acquiring him prior to the 85-86 season.

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“I throw the ball to Larry, two more free throws. Next time, Larry’s guarded so I throw it to Dennis Johnson. DJ goes up there and knocks down two free throws. Larry Bird is guarded, DJ’s guarded, so I throw it to Danny Ainge, who’s the best free throw shooter on the team,” said Bill Walton during a statue ceremony in 2013 for Bird. 

“As Danny’s walking up there to shoot free throws, Larry walks up to me and says, ‘Hey Walton, I know this is your first game here, but if you want to stay on the team, you throw the ball to me every time.” 

This request from Larry Bird would be no problem for Walton as he’s considered to be one of the greatest passing big-men of all time. Finding Bird even on double teams what Bill was capable of doing. 


About the author
Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Covering everything from Wilt Chamberlain's offensive goaltending games in 1962 to Ja Morant's points in the paint absurdity in 2022.

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