Did You Know Larry Bird's NBA Career Ended in Cleveland?

Steve DiMatteo Basketball Sports

Basketball Going in Hoop

Larry Bird dominated the NBA landscape in the 1980s, but his reign came to an end in the early '90s, perhaps a few years earlier than planned due to a bad back (though he was 35 at this point too).

But Bird made one last run to the playoffs with the Boston Celtics in the 1991-92 season, meeting up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Bird was limited to 45 games that season and had to sit out the Celtics' first-round victory against Indiana, but he was still an All-Star that season, averaging 20.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists for a 51-31 aging Boston team.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, were enjoying at the time the best stretch in franchise history. Led by Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo, and Hot Rod Williams, the Cavaliers were 57-25, eventually winning 66 games including the playoffs, which was a franchise record at the time.

Though hobbled by his bad back, Bird helped push the series to seven games, with the Cavaliers prevailing in Game Seven at home (at the Richfield Coliseum, which just so happened to be one of Larry Bird's favorite NBA arenas) by a score of 122-104, holding Bird to just 12 points in 33 minutes. 

Bird would retire later that summer after winning a gold medal as part of the Olympic Dream Team. The Cavs had an Eastern Conference Finals date with their nemesis - Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls - losing to the Bulls in six games (they'd lose to them in 1993 and 1994 as well).

So it might not be much of a '90s consolation prize to essentially end Larry Bird's career in light of Michael Jordan's dominance over Cleveland, but I guess it does soften the blow just a little bit. The same way it does help knowing the Cleveland Indians put an end to David Ortiz's career with the Boston Red Sox back in 2016, even if the team couldn't pull off the World Series title.

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