Today in Celtics history: Bird for 60, Russell's #6 retired, and more
The game, a 126-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks, was played at a neutral court in New Orleans, Lousiana, breaking the franchise record of 56 points set by Kevin McHale a mere nine days earlier. 32 of Larry's points came in a second-half onslaught just 14 minutes long that was such an awesome sight even the Hawks' bench got into the cheering, including Atlanta (and future Celtic, a decade later) star Dominique Wilkens, who said of the night (per Boston.com's Chad Finn):
"The way he was shooting the ball ... was like living in a video game. It couldn't be real. But it was."
For a more in-depth dive into Bird's big night, be sure to check out Finn's excellent oral history here.
On this date in 1972, the @celtics retired Bill Russell’s No. 6. pic.twitter.com/3wazRrAnVf— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) March 12, 2016
Today is also the 45th anniversary of the first time Celtics legendary big man Bill Russell had his #6 retired. I say first because at the time, Russell was bitter about the racial prejudice he felt from many corners of NBA and Celtics' fandom, believing his race prevented him from getting the recognition he deserved for winning eleven rings in his time in green. He instead opted to have a private ceremony with only teammates and friends the first go-round. There would later be a second, public jersey retirement ceremony in May of 1999, attended by many celebrities like Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali, Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain. Proceeds went to national and state mentoring programs, which Russell was involved in at that stage of his life.
#BlackHistoryMonth I hate the green so much but I have to give Bill Russell a second post. The first Aafrican-American coach in the NBA pic.twitter.com/VsSuEA5EBi— Brandon Alexander 🏴 (@FameAdventura) February 23, 2017
For a deeper dive into that retirement ceremony, check out Abacus Reveal's great article on the day here.
#86Celtics Jimmy Rodgers won 6 @NBA titles as asst. coach - ’81, ’84, ’86 w/ C’s & ’96-98 w/ @chicagobulls #Celtics pic.twitter.com/9spB4mg8K7— CSN New England (@CSNNE) April 9, 2016
Today is also the birthday of MANY former Celts, including: former Coach Jimmy Rodgers (1943) and former players Clarence “Kleggie” Hermsen (1923), Bob Houbregs (1932), Maurice King (1934), John Richter (1937), Johnny Jones (1943), Grant Long (1966), and Chris Carr (1974). Evidently, it happens to be one of the more popular birthdays for Celtics out there - only a few have more than a handful, and this might be the most on one day. Happy birthday!
For more stories about Celtics history on Celticslife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.
Image via Boston.com
Data via basketball-reference.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn