Next spring, will mark 21-years since Larry Bird last played in an NBA contest. After bringing “Celtics Pride” back to Boston, while he and his friend and rival Magic Johnson, veritably saved the Association; the small forward’s career did not end the way that he had envisioned in his dreams. His body had betrayed him, his game was no longer consistent and his role on the team had gown hazy; unlike past campaigns, when he was the leader of the squad without question.
Bird had missed a chunk of games in last couple of months of the regular season; with back problems that would later have to be surgically corrected. While he was sidelined, a young player named Reggie Lewis, took advantage of the extra playing time and quickly became the “go-to guy” on the court. The team was comfortable with the new system in place, with the offense running through Lewis; which showed up on the scoreboard at the completion of another Boston victory.
Larry’s back problems subsided and he was ready to return to the floor; which brought controversy to “Celtics Nation,” for the first time in his NBA career, Boston fans questioned whether the team would be better off with or without the future Basketball Hall Of Fame member on the floor. Conventional wisdom clearly called for the Celtics leader to be back commanding the troops on the hardwood, however there were fans, who thought that putting Bird in the mix, would spoil the chemistry that the squad had formed in his absence. It would turn out, that they were pretty much spot-on.
Birdie expected the offense to once again run through him; however the team had grown comfortable with Lewis in that role. That club never truly became a cohesive unit and fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven game series in the Playoffs. A sign that things were not going to go Boston’s way at the afternoon contest in the Richfield Coliseum, was when a Bird pass bounced off big man Robert Parish’s shins early in the first quarter. That would be the final game for Larry Joe Bird in the NBA.
Although there have been no indications of New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire is contemplating retirement; he will be coming back from an injury to his left knee in training camp, that has sidelined him for the entire campaign. “The New York Post” has reported that the big man hopes to be back on the floor on New Year’s Day; but he will be returning to a squad that has had success without him playing, ending Wednesday night with a record of 21-8. The question becomes, will Stoudemire be able to return to his former status with the squad without disturbing the winning formula they have established.
The former All-Star told reporters; that it is just a matter of tuning up his game before he returns to action. He said “I just want to make sure I’m 100 percent. That’s the main goal. I’m not quite there yet but I’m making progress. If you’re not 100 percent, there’s certain areas I want to feel great and I’m not quite there yet.”
One thing that could make his transition somewhat smoother, is the fact that New York will be looking for offensive fire power, as point guard Raymond Felton will be out for the next 4-6 weeks, after fracturing the pinkie on his right hand. The team says that their talented point guard will not need surgery to repair the damage. Veteran Jason Kidd, will undoubtedly see his minutes go upwards until Felton is ready to return.
There were reports earlier in the month; that the Knicks attempted to trade their power forward during the off-season, expecting nothing in value in return. All they reportedly wanted was to get his hefty salary off the books. Allegedly, there was no interest by any other team in the Association; due to the knee problems he has had over the past few years. Even playing hurt last season, the big man was still able to average 17.5 points per game last season; it would be inconceivable that he could not find a team that would take him in with open arms; even with those numbers.