On This Date in Sports March 12, 1985: Bird 60

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Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics sets franchise and career records by scoring 60 points in a 126-115 win over the Atlanta Hawks in a game that was played in New Orleans. It would be the only time Bird scored 60 points in his career as he topped the 56 points scored by Kevin McHale nine days earlier as the new franchise record for the Celtics. 


Larry Bird was born on December 7, 1956, in French Lick, Indiana. Recruited to play for Bob Knight at Indiana, Bird dropped out after one month, feeling overwhelmed by the large campus in Bloomington after living his life in rural Indiana. After a year of working and attending a local college, Larry Bird enrolled at Indiana State. A smaller school proved to fit the shy youngster as led the Sycamores to the National Championship Game in 1979. While Indiana State rarely got the nation’s attention, the Boston Celtics took notice of Larry Bird and, under the old draft rules, claimed his right in 1978 with the sixth overall pick. The rules were changed after the Celtics signed Bird, preventing him from being redrafted in 1979, where he was expected to be picked first overall. 


Larry Bird would win the Rookie of the Year in 1980 and led the Celtics to an NBA Championship in 1981. Three years later, he won the first of three NBA MVP awards, while winning a second title with the Celtics.  Just as his famous 1979 showdown with Magic Johnson helped create the modern era of March Madness, Bird’s continued battles with Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers helped usher in new popularity for the NBA, which before their arrival had games from the finals shown on tape delay. 


In the midst of his second straight MVP award with the Celtics on their way to another NBA Finals battle with the Lakers, Larry Bird had the best game of his on a Tuesday in New Orleans. During the 1984/85 season, the Hawks were perhaps toying with relocating played 12 games at the Lakefront Arena on the campus on the University of New Orleans. The biggest crowd of these games was when the Celtics came to town. The Celtics would win the game 126-115 as Larry Bird scored 60 points while making 22 of 36 shots from the field and 15 of 16 shots from the free-throw line. Bird made just one three-point basket on four attempts along the way. Larry Bird’s 60 points topped a franchise record for the Celtics set by Kevin McHale on March 3rd when he scored 56 points at the Boston Garden against the Atlanta Hawks. Dominque Wilkins was the lead man for Atlanta with 36 points.