Larry Bird ranks as one of the all-time top players of the NBA. He starred in college at Indiana State, taking them to the NCAA final game in 1979, virtually as a one-man team. In the final, they played Michigan State, led by "Magic" Johnson, and together their rivalry would eventually be responsible for the resurgence of the NBA in the 1980s. Bird was named NBA rookie-of-the-year in 1979-80, playing with the Boston Celtics, and remained with that franchise for his entire professional career. With Johnson playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, their rivalry continued as they met in three NBA finals. In all, Bird led the Celtics to the NBA title three times (1981, 1984 and 1986) and was also named league MVP on three occasions. The forward, sometimes called )The Great White Hope), was considered one the greatest pure shooters ever. He suffered from back injuries in the later years of his career, but despite this, was named to the legendary American )Dream Team) that played at the Barcelona Olympics. While Bird's playing time was limited, the Americans easily took the gold. Following the Olympics, Bird retired from the sport, assuming an assistant coaching position with the Celtics. From 1997 to 2000, he coached the Indiana Pacers, being named Coach of the Year in 1998. He later became President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers.
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