The amazing tale of Julius Erving’s epic bench-clearing fight with Larry Bird was detailed.

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers had a fierce rivalry in 1984 because both teams, led by Larry Bird and Julius Erving, were competitive teams that year and could have won the NBA championship.


Now, Larry Bird was one of the most infamous trash-talkers in the history of the game, as Kevin McHale reminded us on Monday. He wasn’t beyond taking “shortcuts” and intimidating the players of the opposing squad into making a careless move.

Therefore, Bird was called for an offensive foul late in a November game between the two teams because it appeared as though he elbowed Doc. The next trip down the court, Erving, who had only six points to Bird’s 42, was clearly irritated and responded, setting off one of the most insane brawls in NBA history.


Now, twenty-four years later, Erving made an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up! and described everything that happened, at least as far as he was concerned (transcript via For The Win).

“There’s a picture of me and Larry strangling each other, and we don’t sign it. We won’t honor it or the occasion because the game isn’t truly about fighting unless you’re in it and the timer is ticking. It always appears at card shows and other events. After that, there is always a conflict, a battle.

..The Celtics were prepared for action in early November. We were kind of like, “OK, we just won this thing,” since we had played the longest season and were only getting started—we were breaking in a new player. They came out ready, red-hot, and roaring.

In fact, Larry was called for an aggressive foul during the brawl. He was really upset with the referee since he didn’t like the call. And he was almost stomping as he came down the court. Standing in front of his bench, it appeared as though he was about to take a swing. It was really out of character since, you know, we were kind of cool because we worked on Converse and Spalding commercials together. However, I assumed that something would happen because he was clearly upset, but his anger was directed at the referee rather than at me.

I simply reached out to stop him, but my arm slid up to his neck in the process. After that, it started. Thus, it was truly unintentional. My intention was not to grip his neck. I gave him a shove to the chest, reached up to his neck, and he reached for my neck. The next thing I know, there’s a brawl. That was it.

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