WATCH: 30th Anniversary Video of Dr. J Punching Larry Bird
These days, it seems like the only 76ers highlights available are when the other team does good things. That’s what happens when you’re in the second consecutive year of a tanking strategy that totally won’t alienate fans.
The only thing left to do? Remember the good old days.
Sunday, for example, was the 30th anniversary of the legendary fight between Dr. J and Larry Bird. Here’s the video:
NBA.com wrote about this a few years back:
The 76ers were the NBA World Champions in 1983. The Boston Celtics captured the NBA World Championship title in 1984. Do you see where this is leading?
Both teams came into this particular game undefeated, Philadelphia at 5-0 and Boston 4-0. One team would walk away with an unblemished mark; the other team would have a mark in the right-hand loss column.
In the aftermath, the NBA Office handed out a grand total of $30,500 worth of fines. The two prime combatants, Bird and Erving were each assessed a pink slip of $7,500 each. M. L. Carr and Moses Malone each drew a $3,000 fine, Charles Barkley $1,000 for fighting and Bill Cunningham a $2,500 setback for post game comments. 12 other players (six from each team) each drew a fine of $500 for leaving their respective bench during the melee.
Boston was well on their way to winning the game when the bad blood started. Bird had put up a tremendous 42 points and seven rebounds by the fourth quarter, and supposedly took every opportunity to remind the Doctor of his running tally. The bad vibes–heightened, no doubt, by a near half-decade-long playoff rivalry that had blossomed between the two teams–grew until the two stars eventually came to blows, inciting a bench-clearing brawl in the process. Avowed Celtics fan Bill Simmons, who was at the game as a young’n, described the experience as being like watching a fight between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Both players were ejected for the reaminder of the fourth quarter. The Celtics won the game, 130-119, and they went on to be the dominant team in the rivalry for the rest of the decade, making three further finals appearances to the Sixers’ zero.
And Bleacher Report named it one of the Top 5 Brawls in NBA History.
And watch this video, where Billy Cunningham lays down the law:
His feud with Larry Bird was heated and turned physical one night on the court in 1984, a confrontation that Erving describes in almost delicate terms. He thought Bird was taking a swing at him, “so I reach out, just wanting to make sure Larry can’t clock me. I end up with my right hand on his chest, and my fingers around his neck.”
The ensuing brawl resulted in a $7,500 fine for both Bird and Erving. But the two went on to earn big promotional dollars together. “I don’t hate Larry. I never hated Larry. I hated Boston. I hated the Celtics.”