I’ve called Larry Bird’s steal against the Detroit Pistons the greatest play in Celtics history. But not everyone agrees. Some say Gerald Henderson’s steal in 1984 is the best… including Henderson himself in this personal message to me and the Red’s Army crew:
For those who don’t know the steal, here’s a quick summary:
The Lakers won Game 1, 115-109, and Game 2 was too close to call as it headed toward the end of regulation. With 15 seconds remaining, the Lakers had a 115-113 lead and the ball. After a timeout, James Worthy tossed the ball inbounds to Johnson, took a return pass and then looked to pass cross-court to Byron Scott. But Henderson, who had briefly left Scott open in order to double-team Johnson, raced back into the passing lane, picked off the pass and drove in for a game-tying layup.
Henderson’s game-saving steal stunned the Lakers, to the point where Johnson let the final seconds of regulation tick away without getting a shot off. The Celtics went on to win 124-121 in overtime, with Henderson setting up Scott Wedman for the key basket, and eventually won the series in seven games for their 15th NBA Championship.
“To be honest, if it wasn’t for that steal, we probably would have been swept,” said Bird.
Here’s the play:
I gotta say… Gerald makes a great point. His steal also stole victory from the jaws of defeat, and it came in the Finals.
What do you think? Is Bird’s steal better, or is Henderson’s.
And I want to send a big shout out to Gerald Henderson and Thuzio for reaching out to us directly. This was an amazingly nice surprise today.