There is not a Celtics fan alive that does not get giddy watching that. It is the single greatest play in the history of a team that has seen 17 banners raised to the rafters, and countless mind-boggling plays that made those championships a reality.
There is so much that makes this the best.
First and foremost, it is executed by one of the franchise's Gods, Larry Bird. If Danny Ainge had pulled off that play, it would not have the same impact. Sorry, it would not have. Part of this play's ultimate appeal is that Superman saved the day… not Jimmy Olsen.
Secondly, the situation. Seconds left, down one, at risk of going down 3-2 in the Conference Finals. When the referee gave the ball to Detroit, panic had set in at the Boston Garden. This play turned rock bottom into the highest of highs in a split second. It was, literally, unbelievable. You wondered if you saw what you saw, or if you were hallucinating.
Thirdly, the opponent. Boston and Detroit hated each other so much. SO much. There were fights, and words, and more fights, and more words… it was ugly. The fact that Isiah Thomas made the pass was just… so… delicious.
And so there they were. The Celtics. The defending champs. About to lose a pivotal Game 5 at home. When….
Larry Bird was on the opposite elbow. When he realized Zeke was not calling a time out, he slid right in front of a flat-footed Bill Laimbeer. Isiah was anxious to end this thing. They had this won, and all he needed was a teammate to catch the ball and this sucker was over. He rushed it. Larry knew it.
The most underrated part of this whole thing was Dennis Johnson's reaction. A lot of guys would have stared, slack-jawed, like it was Jesus walking on water. DJ saw it and broke to the basket. Without that, none of this matters.
It is poetry. It is symbiotic. It is other, similarly gushing synonyms.
It is the greatest play in Celtics history.
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