On this day in Boston Celtics history, legendary small forward Larry Bird was honored with being awarded both Man of the Year by the Sporting News and Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in 1987.
It was the first time in history that any athlete of any sport had won both awards at the same time in the same year. The honor for the Hick from French Lick (as Bird was sometimes called) happened at the apex of his prime years. It may even have been a bit of a jinx if you believe in that sort of thing.
The dual honor ended up being the first time in 5 seasons the Celtics did not make it to the NBA Finals in the Playoffs.
(Photo by NBA Photo Library/NBAE/Getty Images)
Also, today is the 59th anniversary of Bill Sharman’s arguably most incredible “pass” in the history of the NBA All-Star game.
Sharman, who was playing in the 1957 All-Star game when it happened, attempted a full-court lob to fellow All-Star and Celtics teammate Bob Cousy, only to see the pass go into the basket from nearly three-fourths of the court distant.
Cousy reportedly responded to Sharman’s unintentional circus shot by saying (per NBA.com) “Don’t you ever pass?”
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Today is also the anniversary of the original 13 rules of basketball being published in the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA newsletter by its creator James Naismith.
Amazingly, this brief memo was an ancestor to the rules of the modern game.
The rules at the time read as follows:
The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with fist).
A player cannot run with the ball, the player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed.
The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitute allowed.
A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules 3 and 4, and such described in rule 5.
If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there (without falling), providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edge, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
When the ball goes out of bounds it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower in is allowed five seconds, if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.
The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls, and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify people according to Rule 5.
The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
The time shall be two fifteen minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
The side making the most goals in that time is declared the winner. In case of a drew game may, by agreement of the captain, by continued until another goal is made.
The game is just a tad bit more complicated today.
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Rookie of the year, Ernie DiGregorio of the Buffalo Braves accepts the NBA’s Rookie of the year trophy from league commisioner Walter Kennedy. DiGregorio also received an award for leading the league in assists and free throw percentage. (AP Photo/CZA)
On this day in 1951, Boston point guard Ernie DiGregorio was born in North Providence, Rhode Island, later playing his college ball with his hometown Providence College.
DiGregorio was drafted by the Buffalo Braves (now the Celtics — it’s a long story), where he spent the first 4 seasons of his career, followed by a short stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
After being cut by LA, DiGregorio played one season with the Celtics, averaging 3.9 points, a rebound, and 2.4 assists per contest over 27 games.
BOSTON – 1975: Bobby Wilson of the Chicago Bulls applauds against the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1975 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)
Former Celtics shooting guard Bobby Wilson was born on the same day in the same year but in Indianapolis, Indiana, and later played for the Wichita State Shockers in college.
Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1974, Wilson signed with Boston after being cut by Chicago in 1977, and played 12 tilts for the Celtics in the 1976-77 season, logging 2 points per game.
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