Larry Bird’s finals record was 3-2. Bird won two finals against very different Houston Rockets teams and one against the Showtime Lakers featuring Kareem and Magic. Those same Lakers defeated Bird in both his finals losses. His teams’ overall record in finals games was 16-15.
Table of Contents
What Was Larry Bird’s Finals Record?
Larry Bird went 3-2 in his five NBA Finals appearances. Below you can see the playoff results for all of Bird’s Celtics teams.
|79-80||Lost East.Conf Finals||1-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|80-81||Won NBA Finals||4-2||Houston Rockets|
|81-82||Lost EC Finals||3-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|82-83||Lost EC Semis||0-4||Milwaukee Bucks|
|83-84||Won NBA Finals||4-3||LA Lakers|
|84-85||Lost NBA Finals||2-4||LA Lakers|
|85-86||Won NBA Finals||4-2||Houston Rockets|
|86-87||Lost NBA Finals||2-4||LA Lakers|
|87-88||Lost EC Finals||2-4||Detroit Pistons|
|88-89||Lost 1st Round*||0-3||Detroit Pistons|
|89-90||Lost 1st Round||2-3||NY Knicks|
|90-91||Lost EC Semis||2-4||Detroit Pistons|
* Larry Bird was injured and missed the playoffs in 1989.
Who Did Larry Bird Defeat in the NBA Finals?
Bird’s Celtics beat three pretty different teams in their Finals victories – despite two of them being the Houston Rockets.
- In 1981, the Celtics beat a Houston Rockets team featuring Moses ‘Big Mo’ Malone. That team also featured Robert Reid, Calvin Murphy and Mike Dunleavy. But Moses was the team’s clear star.
- In 1984, Bird’s Celtics beat the Showtime Lakers featuring Kareem, Magic and Big Game James Worthy. It was the first showdown between these rivals in the Finals – but not the last.
- In 1986 the Celtics defeated a pretty different Houston Rockets squad. The ‘86 Celtics are in the conversation for best team ever with Bill Walton joining Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale to give the Celtics one of the greatest front courts in history. The Rockets had a decent front line themselves with a young Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson forming the twin towers and being supported by players like Robert Reid and Rodney McCray.
Who Did Larry Bird Lose To In the NBA Finals?
Larry Bird’s Celtics lost two NBA Finals. Both times it was to his rival dating back to college: Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.
- In 1985, the Lakers beat the Celtics behind FInals MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Cap scored 26 points and grabbed 9 rebounds per game in the Finals. He was hardly alone, however. The ‘85 Lakers also featured Magic, James Worthy, Byron Scott, and Michael Cooper.
- In 1987 the Lakers once again beat the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Magic led the team in scoring this time but was still joined by the same stars: Kareem, James Worthy, Byron Scott and Michael Cooper. Cooper’s fellow 1978 draftee Mychal Thompson joined the team for this title.
How Many Finals MVPs Does Larry Bird Have?
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Larry Bird won the NBA Finals MVP two times.
- Bird won Finals MVP in 1984 when his Celttics defeated the Lakers in seven games. He scored 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out 3.6 assists and had 2.1 steals per game.
- Bird also won Finals MVP in 1986 when he scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 10 assists and had 2.7 steals per game. Bird did not technically average a triple double for the series because both his rebounds and assists were slightly below 10 and I’ve rounded them, but, still, those stats are unreal.
- In the Celtics 1981 Championship, Bird did not win Finals MVP. That went to Bird’s teammate Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell. Maxwell is one of two eligible players to have won Finals MVP but not to have made the Hall of Fame. The only other is Chauncey Billups.
How Does Larry Bird’s Finals Record Compare to Other Great NBA Players?
Larry Bird’s Finals record is in the lower half of the list of all-time greats below. While Bird did not have the finals success of a Jordan or Russell, he still had a better record than greats including LeBron and Wilt.
Click the links to read up on the Finals records of the best players in league history.
|Player||NBA Finals Record|
Summary: Larry Bird’s Finals Record
Larry Bird had a winning record in NBA Finals games and series. Bird’s Boston Celtics finished 16-15 in NBA Finals games and 3-2 in NBA Finals series. They beat the Rockets twice and the Lakers once to win NBA titles. They lost twice to the same team: the Los Angeles Lakers.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from: “Bernard Cardinal Law, Larry Bird and Mayor Raymond L. Flynn” by Boston City Archives is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.