1984 NBA Finals: Bird Calls Teammates a Bunch of Sissies
Larry Bird is tired of getting sand kicked in his face.
Boston's All-Star forward was upset with some of his teammates yesterday after a 137-104 loss to Los Angeles in Game 3 of the NBA Championship Series. He all but called them a group of 98-pound weaklings.
''We played like sissies,'' Bird said. ''I can't believe a team like this would let LA come out and push us around like they did.
''I think everybody knows what we did wrong. It's not like we have to go out and beat them up. But still, you get inside position on a rebound, you just can't let somebody go over your back and take it away. I did it a couple times today and a lot of other guys did it. They got all the rebounds and were off and running.
''We've just got to play more physical. We've just got to move the ball a little better. We've just got to be a little more intense. The first two games were very intense. We played hard. Today, I don't think we played hard.''
The Celtics were listless during the thrashing, letting the Lakers outrebound them for the first time this season, 63-44, and allowing Los Angeles to run its break on a five-lane highway.
The Lakers had 53 fastbreak opportunities, converting 37. LA outscored Boston 18-0 at one point in the second quarter to take a 57-46 halftime lead. Then, the Lakers revved up the jet engines, scoring a record 47 points in the third quarter as the Forum court became the West Coast version of the Bonneville Salt Flats.
''This was a big snowing,'' Celtics coach K.C. Jones said. ''Snow picks up as it goes down the hill.''
The Lakers left the Celtics buried under a giant avalanche. Jones will have to send the St. Bernards out into the drifts to see if there are any survivors.
Boston, which suffered its worst loss in 16 trips to the NBA final, will try to regroup in time for Game 4 Wednesday. Among other things, that means trying to get erratic center Robert Parish on track again, and making sure it gets back to defend against what has become the most terrifying fastbreak in the history of the game.
''You can't just stand around on defense after you take a shot,'' Bird said. ''We were just too passive.''
Bird was active enough to score 30 points and grab seven rebounds. But he had only two assists and looked like a one-man stand during his 38 minutes.
''Can you describe your feelings?'' one writer asked. ''Are you mad, frustrated, embarrassed?''
''A little bit of everything,'' Bird said.
If Bird was exasperated, imagine how Parish might have felt. The 7-foot center scored only nine points and did not have a field goal in the first half. In many ways, he was a prisoner in the Lakers' thinly veiled 2-3 zone.
''They could never get me the ball,'' said Parish, who got off only nine shots.
Boston did not get much relief from its perimeter guard play, either, as starters Gerald Henderson and Dennis Johnson totaled only six field goals.
The Lakers' margin of victory could leave deep psychological scars on the Celtics.
''It's particularly disheartening when a team like the Celtics gets outhustled,'' Boston forward Cedric Maxwell said. ''It's very humbling - we can swallow our pride now and concede that the Lakers played well.''
The Lakers played a near-perfect game, which should dispel a theory that LA, which had only a 28-13 record at the Forum during the regular season, is not that difficult to handle at home. It also should give the Celtics some food for thought as they contemplate the future.
''I don't think anybody's down that much,'' Boston forward Kevin McHale said. ''We know what we have to do. It was just a poor performance by the Boston Celtics. Everybody on the team, to a man, has got to be totally embarrassed. Everybody in the country saw this.
''I don't feel in my heart that the Lakers are that much better a team than we are - certainly not 30 points better. They get 47 points in a quarter. Magic Johnson's throwing the ball all over the gymnasium. He gets 21 assists. He gets almost as many as our entire team (Boston had 23). We can't have that. We've just got to play smarter, better basketball.''
McHale thinks some solutions to Boston's problems are simple. The big question appears to be whether the Celtics can get them off the drawing board in time for Game 4.
''We can match up better. That's the first thing we can do about it,'' McHale said. ''Secondly, we can get some breaks going ourselves. We've got to get Chief (Parish) more than nine shots and Max (Cedric Maxwell) more than six shots. Our inside game is almost null and void because they're just making us shoot from the outside.
''Today, we walked it up, then walked back. We've got to get the ball up and down more. We've got to take it inside. We've got to play a power game. We're not doing what we do best.
''The Lakers just came up great guns, hitting everything from 15 feet, and we had nothing to rally back on. We've got to rally back on them.''
That might not be possible unless Jones can find some way to contain Magic. Jones opened with Henderson on Johnson, then opted for experimentation.
''By the way Magic was running the club, I'm sure he felt he was in complete control,'' Bird said. ''He did a great job, there's no doubt about that. He had it going. It was very difficult for us to contain what they were trying to do, because they were running by us so quick.
''I think we can come back because I know the heart and soul of this club. But today, the heart wasn't there. There's no question about it.''
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