NBA Tuesday reaches the season where basketball fans everywhere finally got what they wanted: Bird vs. Magic in the Finals. It would be the first of three matchups in the championship round between the two stars on opposite coasts (1985, 1987), and it was definitely worth the wait, considering it had been five years since the two men squared off in the NCAA Championship (1979).
Remember also to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, because knowledge is power.
1984 NBA FINALS MVP: Larry Bird, PF, Boston (original, confirmed)
Even though the Los Angeles Lakers outscored the Boston Celtics by 2.3 ppg in this 7-game series, it was the team in the green that won Game 7 at home by a 111-102 score. Celtics power forward Larry Bird was named the Finals MVP, after leading his team in points (27.4), rebounds (14.0), and steals (2.1). He also played 7 mpg more than any other player on his side, too, which is a lot of minutes to shoulder.
Can anyone from the Lakers match that, despite the Game 7 loss? Only L.A. point guard Magic Johnson, of course, who put up 18.0 ppg, 13.6 apg, and 7.7 rpg while playing 3 mpg than anyone on his side. That’s an impressive line, too, so who had the better Game 7? Both players shot poorly, although both earned a double double: Bird put up 20 points and 12 boards, while Magic scored 16 and dished 15.
Overall, the Celtics out-rebounded L.A. in Game 7 by a 52-33 margin, and that decided the game. With Bird getting more rebounds in this game than Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6) and Magic (5) combined, we will confirm his MVP nod. Yes, Bird had help, but he was the best player in this series from the team that emerged victorious in the slugfest.
1984 NBA DPOY: Sidney Moncrief, SG, Milwaukee (original); Bird (revised)
Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Sidney Moncrief (4.21 DWS) won the DPOY vote again, despite finishing a distant eighth in Defensive Win Shares. The league leader by 0.74 DWS? Bird. No one else cracked 5.0 DWS, and Larry Legend put up 5.62 DWS for a team that won its division 10 games over the defending champions from Philadelphia. Somehow Bird only finished 12th in the voting, though. What?!
Our threshold for this award generally has been 5.0 DWS, and we don’t want to reward a player without that DWS contribution. Throughout this column history, for example, only the 1969 ABA DPOY failed to reach that level of prowess—and it was the ABA … not the NBA. Therefore, we won’t mess with that here. Bird takes the trophy, based on 10.1 rpg, 1.8 spg, and 0.9 bpg.