Regarding Larry Bird’s well-being and retirement, Kevin McHale was granted his wish.

Their NBA careers began one year apart, and in their first season together with the Boston Celtics, they were champions. Two-thirds of what was perhaps the greatest frontcourt in league history consisted of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.


In the 1980s, Bird and McHale experienced a physically demanding decade of basketball while winning three titles and growing old together. They engaged in combat during practices and games. Within a year of one another, Bird and McHale—two of the greatest jokers and trash talkers—resigned from the NBA. As the conclusion of their playing careers approached, McHale had one desire for his great friend.


Larry Bird acquired Kevin McHale following one of the most significant trades in Boston Celtics history.

In recent years, Larry Bird has garnered the most anticipation of any player entering the league. Red Auerbach selected Bird in the junior draft, but he decided to finish his final year at Indiana State. After averaging 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, he won Rookie of the Year after joining the Celtics for the 1979–80 campaign. The Celtics went from having 29 victories the previous season to 61 with Bird in Boston.


Auerbach executed one of the greatest transactions in the franchise’s history the following year. In the 1980 NBA Draft, Boston was selected first overall and sent the No. 13 pick to the Golden State Warriors. The third overall pick and seasoned center Robert Parish were sent to the Celtics in exchange. McHale was chosen by the Celtics with that third-round pick.



NBA frontcourt standards have been set by Bird, McHale, and Parish. They defeated the Houston Rockets in six games to win the NBA title in their first season together. The Celtics, led by their gifted trio, also captured titles in 1984 and 1986.


From 1984 to 1987, the Celtics made it to four consecutive NBA Finals. In 1988, the Detroit Pistons put an end to Boston’s dominance in the Eastern Conference. After that, injuries started to pile up, and Boston’s chances of success decreased.

McHale had a foot fracture but continued to play in the 1987 NBA Finals. Following heel surgery, Bird missed all but six games of the 1988–89 campaign. He played through a number of problems, most notably a back ailment that restricted his range of motion, and retired following the 1991–92 season. The next season, McHale hung ’em up.

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