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Indiana State and Larry Bird (1 Viewer)

PlayaHata

Footballguy
I was listening to the radio the other day and they said that this year is the 40th anniversary of Larry Bird and Indiana State vs. Magic Johnson and Michigan State playing for the NCAA National Championship.  It got me to thinking.

How good was Indiana State prior to Larry Bird?  I looked up a few stats and I saw that ISU had never even been in the NCAA tournament prior to 1979 and then in 1979 they made it to the final undefeated and ranked #1.  I guess I’m trying to understand how improbable it was for Larry Bird and ISU to go undefeated and make it all the way to the NCAA finals.  Was he just way better than everyone else or did he actually have a good team around him?  Is it maybe comparable to Butler making the championship game the first time?  Or is it even more unlikely than that?

I’ve grown up in Indiana but Larry’s college years are just a little ahead of my time.

 

Cjw_55106

Footballguy
They had 2 eventual NBA players in Bird and Carl Nicks who combined for about 50 points a game. They were also pretty good the 2 years prior to '79 (Bird's Fr and So seasons). 

 

Uruk-Hai

Footballguy
I was 17-going-on-18 when the Bird/Magic game was played.

It was a different world back then. I had a sub to The Sporting News so knew about Bird that year, but I don't think I ever saw him play until the Final Four. It was so funny being a college hoops fan back then - you'd hear a rumor: "hey, Indiana State's got this white dude lighting it up named Bird and a really good PG named Nicks who they call the 'Bird Feeder'". But, there was no internet and most games shown were regional.

 

The_Man

Footballguy
First time I saw them was on ABC World News Tonight - they were 18-0, but Bird and 2 other starters had fouled out vs. New Mexico State, and they were down 2 with 2 seconds to go and New Mexico State at the line. The guy missed the foul shot, ISU rebounded and threw it to midcourt, and the guy banked a shot home from there to force OT (no 3-point shot back then), where the Sycamores won and kept their undefeated season alive.

I was like 8 or 9. The shot was so amazing (and those sky blue uniforms were so fresh) that I jumped on the bandwagon.

Here's the shot: https://youtu.be/Ss9Hyxj7O8U

LOL at the male cheerleader with the megaphone who goes down like he's shot
 

 

SayWhat?

Footballguy
I was listening to the radio the other day and they said that this year is the 40th anniversary of Larry Bird and Indiana State vs. Magic Johnson and Michigan State playing for the NCAA National Championship.  It got me to thinking.

How good was Indiana State prior to Larry Bird?  I looked up a few stats and I saw that ISU had never even been in the NCAA tournament prior to 1979 and then in 1979 they made it to the final undefeated and ranked #1.  I guess I’m trying to understand how improbable it was for Larry Bird and ISU to go undefeated and make it all the way to the NCAA finals.  Was he just way better than everyone else or did he actually have a good team around him?  Is it maybe comparable to Butler making the championship game the first time?  Or is it even more unlikely than that?

I’ve grown up in Indiana but Larry’s college years are just a little ahead of my time.
What a dumb question.  Of course he was.  Best.  Evah.  

 

CletiusMaximus

Footballguy
Bird v Magic was awesome, especially the way it transitioned from college to pro.

My nephew was recruited by Indiana St. for football last year.  They offered him a full scholarship.

Me:  Hey, Larry Bird's school!

Him:   :confused:

He's a big basketball fan, plays the NBA xbox game constantly. Had no idea.

 

CletiusMaximus

Footballguy
I was 17-going-on-18 when the Bird/Magic game was played.

It was a different world back then. I had a sub to The Sporting News so knew about Bird that year, but I don't think I ever saw him play until the Final Four. It was so funny being a college hoops fan back then - you'd hear a rumor: "hey, Indiana State's got this white dude lighting it up named Bird and a really good PG named Nicks who they call the 'Bird Feeder'". But, there was no internet and most games shown were regional.
My enduring, but obscure memory from this tournament is Al McGuire doing color with **** Enberg for one of the Spartans' early round games.  It was a blowout, and MSU brought on a guy from the end of their bench for the final couple minutes.  He immediately blew out his shoe, and spent almost his entire court time re-tying his shoe while the action went on around him.  McGuire thought it was hilarious, nicknamed the kids "shoes", and he kept harping on him the whole tournament.  I think Enberg and McGuire interviewed him after one of the games.

 

Chemical X

Chat MVP
i remember this season and game somewhat.  iirc, isu only had its program for 10 years after not playing for like 35?  before bird, isu was a 500 or sub 500 team.  he was so much better than other players, it wasn’t funny.  i think msu’s plan was to body and beat up bird, knowing he was the team.  bird played the whole game, but shot poorly.  i know magic’s wingman was a real good greg kelser.

 

ffldrew

Footballguy
I saw him live vs Southern Illinois in Carbondale and against Illinois State that season. I lived in Southern Illinois and I had friends going to schools around the state - you would always see some ISU games on local TV through the years. I saw Magic vs Illinois (drove in crazy snow storm to get there)in Champaign. Illinois vs Purdue and Joe Barry Carroll and Ronnie Lester(one of the best I've ever seen - knee injury ruined his career) and Iowa. It was some great great basketball years in 77-78-79 in Big 10 and Missouri Valley. Went to Louisville games against St Louis - and saw Darrel Griffith.  Bird played with Alex Gilbert from East St. Louis who I had watched in high school. He truly made everyone better around him - Beyond his shot (he would make nearly everything ) his passing is what made that team.

God I miss those days of Basketball - going to sound like an old guy here - but I just don't think it got better than during the stretch from 76 - 84 in College BBall - from undefeated Indiana - to Walton- Moncrief- Magic-Bird - Griffith -Thomas-Sampson- Hakeem and so many more. Great teams - great coaches. Interesting how Magic-Bird saved the NBA and in the end it ruined college basketball.

 

NewlyRetired

Footballguy
Bloomington is closer to French Lick than Terre Haute.  Bird did not fit into the large school that Indiana was and Bobby Knight probably did not help.  
Here is a little excerpt from a book on college basketball that is topical.

==============================

The start of classes only intensified Bird’s feelings of isolation. Here he was, a poor, sheltered, intensely introverted teenager who had barely set foot outside his hometown of fewer than three thousand people, and he was stuck without any friends on a campus of more than thirty thousand undergraduates. He couldn’t get over the fact that he had to walk several miles just to get to class. And, as he often said half-jokingly, “I ain’t no genius in school.”

If he thought he might get some emotional support from the coaches, that notion was quickly dispelled as well. One night, while walking down the street with Jan Condra, who had also enrolled at Indiana, at Larry’s behest, and her sister, Larry looked up and saw Knight walking toward them. He stiffened and readied himself to speak to his head coach for the first time since arriving on campus. Knight walked toward Bird; Bird said hello — and Knight blew by without saying a word. “Larry didn’t say anything, but I could tell with his demeanor that his feelings were hurt,” Condra says. “Larry was used to people being a lot nicer to him. He didn’t like Coach Knight’s personality.”

Knight would later regret treating Bird so coldly. “Larry Bird is one of my great mistakes,” he said. “I was negligent in realizing what Bird needed at that time in his life.”

 

Uruk-Hai

Footballguy
My enduring, but obscure memory from this tournament is Al McGuire doing color with **** Enberg for one of the Spartans' early round games.  It was a blowout, and MSU brought on a guy from the end of their bench for the final couple minutes.  He immediately blew out his shoe, and spent almost his entire court time re-tying his shoe while the action went on around him.  McGuire thought it was hilarious, nicknamed the kids "shoes", and he kept harping on him the whole tournament.  I think Enberg and McGuire interviewed him after one of the games.
Huffman? Hoffman? Something like that. McGuire made a folk hero out of that kid.

 

BroncoFreak_2K3

sucker for Orange
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rockaction

Footballguy
Knight would later regret treating Bird so coldly. “Larry Bird is one of my great mistakes,” he said. “I was negligent in realizing what Bird needed at that time in his life.”
Nice anecdote. Edited for brevity. Even in candidness, I never liked Knight, either. Bird made the right move.  

 
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boilerdave

Footballguy
They had 2 eventual NBA players in Bird and Carl Nicks who combined for about 50 points a game. They were also pretty good the 2 years prior to '79 (Bird's Fr and So seasons). 
Yes Bird had a pretty good team around him.

They're retiring Nicks' jersey at ISU next month. Another good player on that team was Brad Miley, he'd been an Indiana High School All-Star from Rushville.

I was going to another college in Terre Haute in '78-'79 and went to see ISU play several times plus pretty much every game was on local TV as I recall.

https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/2019/01/17/carl-nicks-forgotten-isu-basketball-phenom-overshadowed-larry-bird/2513404002/

 

Mr. Ected

Footballguy
Growing up in Boston in the 80s, I was watching the Celtics in the Larry Bird era. He was a god. I loved his trash talking, like when he would show up at the three pointer contest and say "so which of you guys is going to come in second?" This piece is more of a comparison between him and LeBron, and I figure most will be surprised by the results. (Be aware of the guy talking at the end referring to Larry Joe as a n****r.)

 

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