Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice retrospective, though outdated and with significant omissions . . ., August 5, 2009
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This review is from: Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend, 25th Anniversary Edition (DVD)
Quiet and unassuming, Larry Bird was not the most physically gifted athlete, but he became an NBA legend through hard work, determination, and playing with intelligence and heart. A fierce competitor with a burning desire to win, Bird strived for excellence in all facets of the game, and was selected three times as the NBA Most Valuable Player. A three time NBA champion, Bird also won an Olympic gold medal as part of the USA's `Dream Team', and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Bird's basketball career is partially reviewed in the hour long documentary Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend. The date of production is not stated in the credits, but it appears that the documentary was produced in 1991. It begins with Bird's formative years growing up in French Lick, Indiana, his college career at Indiana State, and then his NBA career as a member of the Boston Celtics. In 1979, Larry Bird led Indiana State to the NCAA title game against a Magic Johnson led Michigan State team. Johnson's Spartan's claimed the title, but the Bird/Johnson rivalry was just beginning. Bird's Celtics would battle Magic's Lakers for the NBA title three times in the 1980's, with the Lakers claiming victory twice. Bird was Rookie of the Year in 1980, and helped reverse the fortunes of a floundering Celtic franchise, which made the biggest one season improvement in league history, going from 29-53 to 61-29. While a great individual player, Bird made his teammates better with his unselfish play. Winning was most important stat to Bird, who was one of the few superstars capable of taking over a game, or making a last second shot, when it was necessary. Though slowed by age and injury, Bird would continue to give all he had whenever he was on the court.

In addition to game highlights, the documentary has numerous commentaries from coaches, teammates, opponents, sportscasters, and basketball insiders. Reviewing Larry Bird's career is no easy task. The documentary does a good job, but still misses the mark in several areas. The intense Celtic/76er rivalry, which often reached epic proportions in the early 80's, is just briefly touched upon. The rivalry with Dr. J was quite intense. In 1984, in a game where Bird was outscoring Doc 42 to 6, the two superstars got into a scuffle where both were ejected. Yet. there are no interviews with Julius Erving, or anyone from the 76ers. Missing are any contribution from Cedric Maxwell, or Nate Archibald, key members on the Celtics teams of the early 80's. Also missing are comments from any of the other great eastern conference players that regularly faced off against Bird, people like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, Isaiah Thomas, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Sidney Moncrieff, Bill Laimbeer, and Dominique Wilkins, just to name a few. And that does not even consider players in the western conference. Not mentioned is the lesser remembered, but more heated rivalry with Chuck `The Rifleman' Person of the Indiana Pacers.

Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend, while a good retrospective in 1991, is a bit outdated in 2009. After 1991, Bird was a member of the gold medal winning Olympic `Dream Team' in 1992, and retired from the NBA later that year. He coached the Indiana Pacers from 1997 through 2000, with a record of 147 wins, and 67 losses, and a 68% winning percentage, taking them to the NBA Finals in 2000. Bird was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and at this time is President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers. Beginning as the fiercest of competitors, Magic and Larry are now close friends, with the deepest of mutual respect. They each credit the other, with helping to make them the best player they could be.

The set consists of two double sided discs. The documentary is on Side A of Disc 1. The rest of the material consists of complete games, in which Bird had note worthy performances. On Side B of Disc 1 is a 1985 Celtic/Hawk contest, played in New Orleans where Bird scored a career high of 60 points. On Side A of Disc 2 is Game Seven of the 1988 playoff series between the Celtics and the Hawks, a see-saw affair played at the Boston Garden, highlighted by a scoring duel between Bird and Dominique Wilkins. On Side B of Disc 2 is an exciting 1992 double overtime thriller between Boston and Portland, where Bird scores a last second three to tie the game at the end of regulation, and then leads the Celtics to victory, finishing with 49 points and a triple double.

Looking at the NBA today, where there seems to be less emphasis on the fundamentals, and where most teams struggle to score a hundred points, it's interesting to see how the game was played in the 80's, when most teams ran and pushed the ball up court. The Celtics were such a great passing team, and it's marvelous to see them in action. While the selected games show Bird scoring a lot of points, aside from the Hawk playoff game, these games don't really have great historical significance. Why not feature one of the memorable Celtics/Lakers contests from the finals, or a Celtics/Sixer classic, or a game from one of the Celtics/Rockets finals? There is room on the discs for some additional games.

Although the feature documentary is outdated, and the selection of games could have been better, the set is a good value based on the amount of content. A superlative player, who usually let his play on the court do the talking, Larry Bird helped make the NBA what it is today.
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