|Celtics boss Danny Ainge explains why he considers Stephen Curry, not Larry Bird, best shooter of all time||09.24.15 at 1:06 am ET|
Danny Ainge spent nearly eight seasons alongside Larry Bird, the man many consider the greatest shooter in NBA history, so he doesn’t say the following lightly: Stephen Curry is the best shooter he’s ever seen.
Ainge made the observation on Twitter during the playoffs, which ended with Curry’s Warriors claiming the title, and he explained himself earlier this week in an interview with WEEI.com from his Waltham office.
“I think Larry was as good a shooter as I’ve ever seen before Steph. And Ray Allen is up there, too,” Ainge said. “If anybody were to come in and tell me, ‘Larry Bird‘s the best shooter of all time,’ I wouldn’t have much argument. Same with Ray. I probably wouldn’t argue. It’s really close.
“The reason I think Steph is the best shooter of all time is simply the variety of shots he hits. Left-handed running hook shots, reverses, floaters, 3-point shots off the dribble, behind screens. It’s the variety and the degree of difficulty of the shots he hits.”
Ainge, who was no slouch in the shooting department himself (.378 lifetime on 3’s and .846 on free throws), got an up-close-and-personal look at Bird’s ability to score while surrounded by multiple defenders, but for sheer creativity, he’s going with Curry.
“That’s why I think Larry was always my first guy of being the best shooter of all time, up until Steph,” Ainge said. “To me, it was the difficulty of shots he made. I mean, Larry could shoot with two guys draped on him, and I used to play Larry one-on-one often before practice. I would be right on him and turn around, and the ball would be going in the basket. That’s what was always amazing to me, how he was able to create that shot and get that shot off with very little space. I see the same qualities in Steph.”
|Larry Bird accepts ice bucket challenge in tube socks||08.20.14 at 3:34 pm ET|
As graceful as ever, a tube-socked Larry Bird accepted the ice bucket challenge. Praise Basketball Jesus.
|Behind the backboard: Larry Bird vs. Avery Bradley||12.03.13 at 11:56 pm ET|
“That was honestly just a lucky shot,” said Bradley, who finished with 15 points in the Celtics‘ 108-100 win over the Bucks. “I didn’t even know how much time was left. I just wanted to get the shot up.”
|Larry Bird at Indiana State statue dedication: ‘Boston has the best sports fans I’ve ever seen’||11.13.13 at 2:30 pm ET|
Larry Bird is quick to remind you he is only human. Incapable of any superpowers or magic, he promises, French Lick’s Larry Joe Bird’s talent is simply the product of a man who worked incredibly hard to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
‘I was always told I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to compete against the best,’ Bird said. ‘I heard it in high school, I heard it in college and I heard it in the pros, so I’d keep working harder. That’s what pays off. I guess things worked out pretty well.’
This past weekend, Indiana State University recognized Bird’s contributions to the game of basketball by unveiling his 15-foot bronze statue on campus outside ISU’s Hulman Center. While the day was tremendous for the Sycamores, the city of Terre Haute, and the basketball-crazed state of Indiana, Bird admitted that a big piece of his heart still belongs to Boston.
‘Boston has the best sports fans I’ve ever seen,’ Bird said. ‘They live it and breathe it. I was so honored to be able to put on a jersey and play at a place where they cared. One of the best lines I ever heard, I think it was in ‘86 against Houston, and we were going into Game 6 [of the NBA Finals]. The crowd was absolutely going berserk, and this was an hour before the game. Some of the guys were still shooting before they came back into the locker room. One of them said, ‘I’m telling you, them fans want blood out there and they don’t care whose it is. We lose, and it’s our blood!’ And man, was he right, the place was rocking that night.’
Before the statue unveiling on Saturday morning, Indiana State first honored Bird with a ‘Larry Legend’ scholarship dinner on Friday night. Hosted by Jackie MacMullan, the program was broken into four quarters focused on Bird’s career in high school, college and the NBA, and his time as a coach and an executive as team president of the currently undefeated Pacers.
Bird’s statue was unveiled a week after the city of Boston recognized Bill Russell with his own monument. As the two most famous Celtics of all time, Bird feels a connection to Russell, but he was quick to point out that, while both men wore the Celtics jersey for 13 seasons in their careers, only one earned 11 championship rings.
‘If anybody deserves a statue, it’s Bill Russell,’ Bird said. ‘We all looked up to him. He set the bar so high for all of us. He’s had such a great career and a lot of success. I’m really happy for Bill, not only for his statue, but for Bill the man. He’s a great man.’
The ceremony started with a look back at Bird’s roots with the game of basketball, a connection that now is more deeply intertwined than ever. Bird’s coach at Springs Valley High School, Jim Jones, served as a mentor, and Bird noted that lessons his coach taught him in 1970 still hold true today.
‘Coach Jones spent a lot time with us as young kids and showed us how to play the game the right way,’ Bird said. ‘He was telling us, no matter how long you stay out here or how many jump shots you shoot, there’s always somebody out there doing a little bit more. That guy in my life was Magic Johnson. Maybe that’s why he got the ring from the NCAA tournament back in 1979.’
|Larry Bird: ‘Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing’||07.08.13 at 6:29 pm ET|
One of the greatest Celtics in franchise history believes the team’s intensely loyal fan base should trust in Danny Ainge.
Larry Bird, speaking to reporters Monday at the Orlando summer league games, said he understands why his former teammate and current president of basketball operations of the Celtics traded heart-and-soul pieces Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last week to the Brooklyn Nets.
“Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing,” Bird said. “He won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge. Danny does a good job. You know, you do get older. You can’t beat Father Time, and I’m sure things will work out.”
Pierce will be 36 next season while Garnett will be 37 when he suits up with Brooklyn. Both, Bird said Monday can be productive with the Nets.
“I think they’ve both been pretty healthy throughout their careers,” Bird said Monday. “They haven’t had the major, major injuries that I had. I think they got plenty left. The way they will be coached and the bench that they have. Yeah — they’ll pick their spots, but when the time comes, they’ll be there.”
Bird, who serves as Ainge’s counterpart with the Pacers, acknowledged it’s disappointing to see Pierce, the second-leading scorer in Celtics franchise history, not be able to do what he did and finish his career playing only for the Celtics.
“I would have loved to see it,” Bird said. “I got a lot of respect for Paul and what he has accomplished. But who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation.”
Pierce, who turns 36 Oct. 13, averaged 18.6 points per game this past season and, with 24,021 points, trails only John Havlicek on Boston’s all-time scoring list.
“[Pierce] is one of the better ones to ever come through there, he really is,” Bird insisted.
|Paul Pierce: ‘I think maybe I can play a little longer than anticipated’||12.19.12 at 10:53 pm ET|
He had lost a step or two, didn’t have the explosion at the basket and … was getting old.
So, his answer Wednesday was to go out and score a season-high 40 points, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, as the Celtics outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-91 Wednesday night at TD Garden. Pierce, at 35 years of age, became the oldest Celtics player ever with a 40-point game in regulation.
Afterward, Pierce was reminded of that fact and reflected on his 14-year career.
“I think maybe I can play a little longer than anticipated,” Pierce said. “Who knows?”
Larry Bird scored 49 points in a game when he was 35 years, 99 days old but that game was in double-overtime.
“Oh wow. Another one for the records, I guess,” Pierce said. “I’ve been here long enough. Maybe I’ll go for 50 now.”
But to Pierce, who questioned the team’s identity just 24 hours earlier after a loss in Chicago, Wednesday night was much more about a badly-needed win than his 40 points.
“It’s a make or miss league. Who knew I was going to come in and shoot the ball the way I did, but the one thing I could control was how hard I was going to play today and the effort I was going to put out,” Pierce said.
The Celtics fed off Pierce all night, building a 20-point lead late in the third and staving off the young, hungry Cavs when they cut it to two points midway through the fourth.
‘I think when you play like that it can be contagious,” he said. “Offensively, guys knocking down shots, and then other guys getting up in there and defending. Things can definitely be contagious. I know I think everybody definitely wanted to get off this slide that we’re on so it was a good win, it’s a start.
‘I feel like the last few games I’ve been shooting the ball a lot better, three or four games now. So I feeling like I’m really coming along where I’m starting to get into a good groove offensively. The way my shot’s going, picking my spots. So even before tonight I felt good.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: How Kevin Garnett cements his Celtics legacy and ensures his number retires to the Garden rafters||08.01.12 at 2:12 pm ET|
It didn’t take long after being traded on July 31, 2007 for Kevin Garnett to carve his name into Celtics lore. He poured the foundation for his legacy when he helped deliver the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, but has he cemented it enough to ensure his number will join the 20 others retired to the Garden rafters?
Garnett’s impact goes far beyond statistics, so the C’s may have already reserved a square to stitch his number between Cedric Maxwell‘s No. 31 and Paul Pierce‘s No. 34, but his three-year extension should assure him of never seeing another Celtic don the No. 5 again. And that assertion can be put into numbers.
Already, Garnett’s 5,229 regular-season points and 1,393 postseason points in a Celtics uniform rank him 27th and 16th in franchise history, respectively. Once you consider his 2,771 rebounds and 919 assists in the regular season as well as his 748 rebounds and 198 assists in the playoffs, he joins lists that already only respectively include 17 and seven Celtics players. The question remains: How much higher can Garnett climb?
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