I’m watching the 1987 NBA Finals Game 6. Just a minute or so
into the 2nd half Bird drives past Worthy toward the baseline and misses a
short jumper. Kareem and Bird go
for the rebound and tip the ball away from the rim as the ref, anticipating
contact, calls a too quick whistle. On replay, it’s clear there was no foul and
virtually no contact on the rebound action. I hate bad officiating.
The ref walks away, looking back all the way from his
station out of bounds behind the baseline past Bird, Kareem, Magic and McHale
to identify James Worthy as the fouler.
No, Worthy was not in the play after Bird blew past him. I
mean it’s James Worthy; he’d taken a few steps towards the Lakers’ goal
already. What else? Not only was Worthy literally about 6’ away from Bird but
Danny Ainge was physically in between the Worthy and Bird.
Kareem had just picked up a (touchy considering the who,
when and what) 4th foul moments before and Larry Bird was the passer
on the play. Whaddya mean, passer? Yes, that’s the most amazing thing about
this whole situation.
What looked like typically random rebound action for about 5
viewings of this play, looked too lucky on #6, and by replay #9 was an almost
unimaginable pass, even from Larry Bird. After the shot went short and as
Kareem is rebounding the ball, Bird double hand (left dominant) tips it
DIRECTLY to Kevin McHale all alone under the basket. It was really hard to see any possibility of Bird seeing around Kareem well enough to know where McHale was. And to tip it precisely as Kareem is rebounding it? Simply phenomenal. Without the bogus foul call,
the NBA highlight reel would always include this play among Bird’s best. I hate