Larry Bird ripped Bill Walton before a 1986 Celtics game and used it as motivation.

There wasn’t much to be upset about for the Boston Celtics during the 1985-86 season. The Celtics, led by Larry Bird, won 67 games and their second title in three years. Bill Walton, who was acquired at the start of the season in a trade involving Cedric Maxwell, had a significant role in the 1986 championship. Walton, who had been injured frequently throughout his career, came to Boston to help strengthen the bench and give future Hall of Famers Robert Parish and Kevin McHale a break.

Walton played 80 games, the most of his NBA career. He was selected the NBA’s sixth man of the year. He also annoyed Bird before a game against the Dallas Mavericks, which fueled the Celtics mythology that night.

Larry Bird admitted that he wasn’t happy with Bill Walton. Before a Mavericks game in 1986 Play Losses were rare for the Celtics during the 1985-86 season. They had one loss all season at home and never lost more than two straight during the season. That can’t-lose mentality stuck with the Celtics throughout the season, and a lot of that had to do with the addition of Walton, a former MVP and NBA champion. Walton kept McHale and Parish fresh. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19.3 minutes. He’s also partly responsible for Bird’s 50-point night against the Mavericks on March 10, 1986.

“We just didn’t think we’d lose,” Bird says in a 2020 video released by the Celtics to celebrate their 1986 victory. “We lost a few games over the year. I recall being upset with Kevin and Bill before the game. They were goofing around in Dallas. “I was very upset, so I went out and told them, ‘I don’t need you guys; I’ll win it on my own.'” I scored 50 points, and we lost, but I proved my point.” Bird scored 50 points while making 18 of 33 shots from the floor and going 10 for 11 from the free throw line. He also got 11 rebounds, but the Celtics for only the second game in a row.

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