Larry Bird, the President of the Indiana Pacers, had this to say to Mike Wells of the Indy Star after the Heat had their way with the Pacers in game five:
“I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird said on the phone. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”
With their emotional leaders – Danny Granger and David West – sidelined with sprained ankles, the Pacers went 2-ply soft. Udonis Haslem absolutely destroyed Tyler Hasbrough. No response. Dexter Pittman measured Lance Stephenson and drilled him with a devastating elbow. No reaction. Maybe the Pacers are still in awe of what LeBron and Wade did in game four. Or, as Roy Hibbert put it:
“And-1 mix tape out there. They were just dunking, having fun and doing whatever the hell they wanted.”
I like Bird’s last-ditch effort to save the season. He tried it before. Back when he was playing with the Celtics. In 1984. Via Nexis:
And it didn’t sit well with Larry Bird, who sensed the 1984 NBA Championship slipping away to the hated Lakers.
“We played like sissies,” Larry Bird said 26 years ago, calling out his teammates, appealing to their manhood and pride.
Any true Lakers-Celtics fan remembers what happened next.
Boston turned the series around in Game 4, Kevin McHale taking down Kurt Rambis with a clothesline tackle and the Celtics assuming the role of aggressor, attacker and provoker the remainder of the series.
Here’s that iconic McHale clothesline. In case you’re wondering, Boston won in seven.