Bird and Irving, two Giants who starred in one of the most memorable battles in the NBA

Bird and Irving, two Giants who starred in one of the most memorable battles in the NBA

In the NBA There are rivalries that are difficult to forget. And one of them was the one who starred in it Larry bird And Julius Erving. The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers already had their history between franchises, but they were responsible for adding another incentive to the story. Aside from the tales the two cities brought with them, the two stars starred in unforgettable duels throughout the 1980s.

We have to look back to begin to explain how the rivalry between Boston and Philadelphia arose. In 1965 and after its establishment Wilt Chamberlainthe bustling interior has already begun to go up and down with the Celtics and with him Bill Russell. Numerous conference finals showdowns between both franchises began a rivalry that would go on to become unparalleled over time.

Larry Bird would face another big and fierce competition in the NBA: Julius Erving who completed 21.6 points per game in his first season (1976-77). The competition between the Celtics forward and Magic Johnson, who played for the Lakers, made the duels between Bird and Irving somewhat overshadowed. Despite this, Julius Erving, is legendary Dr. J.would have a more direct competition with Larry Bird, as they are usually paired in matches sharing the same position on the hardwood.

Larry Bird throws against opposing Julius Erving


Smoke billowed from every battle on the track between Irving and Bird. If the Celtics forward wants to challenge himself with his venerable magic in the Finals, he first has to pass the position test. He didn't always agree. They faced each other in four Eastern Conference Finals between 1980 and 1985, with two wins for the Sixers and two more for the Celtics. Either Irving or Bird made it to the finals.

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Today, in playoff time, we remember the few times a team was able to overcome a 1-3 deficit. One of those comebacks was made by Bird's Boston Celtics against Irving's Philadelphia Sixers (1980-81). This was Bird's second year in the NBA, though Dr. J. He won the MVP trophy for the season, and it was the Celtics who won the ring.

The rivalry gradually grew into final after final and continued into the following season. He took the Sixers Personal revenge He won Game 7 of the conference finals against the Celtics at the Garden. The game nights between the two teams were intense, of course. Fights became common. They ended up defeating the best players in the league.

He was November 9, 1984In a regular confrontation in the league, without defeat by both teams, the competition between the two legends became more intense. The match started with a huge mistake, and within seconds it turned into a historic battle One of the fiercest battles For American basketball.

On an individual level, Bird was devastating Dr. J. The Celtics player scored 42 points, while the Sixers forward did not exceed 6. Larry Bird also scored Talk about trash To the next level. He was being provocative throughout the entire encounter Dr. J. Until Julius and Larry get into a fist fight with a special guest: the young man charles barkley, Who was responsible for restraining a Celtics player. Dick PavettaThe match referee revealed what Larry Bird said to Irving minutes before the famous fight: “Aren't you going to defend me?”

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Irving decided to elbow Larry and send him to the floor. The two benches took to court. The Celtics star decided to grab him by the neck Dr. J. and barclay Moses Malone They appeared on the scene. “I see them choking each other Disorder ensues. I stepped back and watched what was happening. “I was then informed that Bird and Irving had been sent off,” the referee said.

The Celtics won that game 130-119, but the fight continued until Fines: $30,500. Logically, Larry Bird and Julius Erving were the two players who received the biggest penalty of all those in attendance, as they were both fined $7,500. Moses Malone was fined $3,500 and Charles Barkley $1,000 for their role in the violent fight.

“I thought he was going to hit me, I really thought so, so I acted, I just tried to keep it away“I put my hand at that height of the chest, and I think my hand slid a little bit up his neck,” Irving defined the action. “Then he walked towards me, and the next thing I remember is that he grabbed my neck. I don't even know what happened. All I know is that they kicked me out of the game, and that they also kicked Bird out and fined us,” he explained.

Aside from additional sports, the historic individual matches between the two stars led to confrontations that were not repeated in the history of the league. Clearly, that has translated into successes for Boston and Philadelphia. The eyes of the fans did not lose sight of either of the two, with the possibility of a conflict occurring between the two every time they saw each other's faces.

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The iconic image of the fight between Byrd and Irving


The results were always very equal. Of the 44 meetings that took place between them in the regular season, Boston had 23 victories while the other 21 were for Philadelphia. In the qualifiers, equality was greater. 12 wins per player In 24 matches they faced each other.

Despite the brawl that broke out mid-game, Irving and Bird always had a relationship of mutual respect off the court. “Larry and I had legitimate competition. “It was always tough, you know, playing against them because it looked like they were next in line, and they wanted to force me out because I was the dominant small forward in the league,” Julius Erving confirmed.

The admiration between the Boston legend and the Philadelphia legend made them perform at their highest levels. Restless nights, and even split games and finals. The rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson overshadowed the fierce competition existing between the Celtics player and the legend. Dr. J.two game masters in a duel like no other.

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Oliver Walton

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