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Sports Then and Now



30 Years Ago: Celtics Edge Sixers In Series For The Ages 3

Posted on April 29, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1981 Julius Erving was at the top of his game and Larry Bird was an emerging superstar in the NBA.

Thirty years ago, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals, which is quite possibly the greatest NBA playoff series of all time.

The series went seven games, had five games decided by two points or less, and featured the Celtics overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to win the series and advance to the NBA Finals.

1981 was the second year of the Larry Bird era, who had won the rookie of the year in 1980 and had lead the Celtics to the greatest single-season turnaround in NBA history, as Boston finished with a 61-21 record, before falling to the Sixers in five games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the offseason, Bird would be joined with center Robert Parish and rookie power forward Kevin McHale, in forming the “Big Three” of the Bird era.

To go along with this legendary frontline, was point guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald and starting forward Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell as Boston went 62-20 in the regular season for the NBA’s best record.

The Sixers also went 62-20 in the regular season as they were led by forward Julius Erving,

who averaged 24.6 points and 8 rebounds per game, to win the MVP award for the regular season.

In addition to “Dr. J”, the Sixers’ lineup featured center Daryl Dawkins, known as “Chocolate Thunder”, defensive specialist Bobby Jones, a pair of point guards in Maurice Cheeks and Lionel Hollins, and a rookie guard off the bench, that would become known as the “Boston Strangler”, Andrew Toney. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
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      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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