May 26, 1987 – Larry Bird Steals the Ball (and the Game)

Larry Bird’s entire career was a highlight film but one of his most famous moments came on this day, May 26, in 1987 during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

The Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons were tied at 2 games apiece and the crucial Game 5 was being played at the historic Boston Garden.

Detroit was ahead 107-106 with only seconds┬áremaining in the game when the ball was knocked out of bounds as Boston’s Larry Bird tried to score.

Surprisingly (especially if you were a Celtics fan) the ball was awarded to Detroit and Isiah Thomas got ready to inbound the ball with only five seconds left on the clock.

All Detroit had to do was inbound the ball safely and they probably would’ve won the game and taken a 3 games to 2 lead.

However, as Thomas tried to┬áinbound the ball to Pistons’ center Bill Laimbeer, Bird jumped into the passing lane and stole the ball.

As soon as he caught it Bird turned and passed the ball to a cutting Dennis Johnson who laid the ball in with only one second on the clock to give the Celtics the win.

Even though he finished the game with 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists it’s his steal that has gone down in NBA history.

You can watch Larry Bird’s iconic steal below. (Notice the reaction of the Celtics’ bench – especially Bill Walton’s!)

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