We all know the holy trinity of clutch steals in Celtics playoff history. Bird’s steal against Detroit in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals. Gerald Herderson’s pick-off of James Worthy’s lazy pass in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals. And of course, HAVLICEK STOLE THE BALL!!!!!!! We could debate which ranks first out of those three but no doubt they were all clutch. But there is another incredibly clutch steal that has been forgotten. Maybe it’s because it happened in the same series as Henderson’s steal, but to me, it was equally as important.
The scenario: The Celtics had been outplayed overall in the first three games of the 1984 NBA Finals, including the first two at home (Game 2 of course, was Henderson rescuing the C’s with his steal). After Game 3 when the Lakers embarrassed the Celtics at the Forum, Bird famously called his teammates ‘sissies.’ Game 4 was an epic one, and the turning point of the series. It’s the game that featured McHale’s clothesline of Kurt Rambis. So with 16 seconds left and the C’s trailing by two (and the possibility of a 3-1 deficit) Bird drilled two free throws, the second bouncing several times on the rim before dropping. LA had plenty of time to take the final shot, but Robert Parish had other ideas.
Magic was determined to get the ball into the post to James Worthy, after drawing Parish on a mismatch. Instead, the Chief forced Worthy way out to the side three-point line, fronted him and stole the ball from a panicked Magic who seemed to force a bad pass. Nonetheless, Parish got a huge steal, forced OT as the C’s tied up the series 2-2. Parish’s steal is the only one to not only come on the road, but in LA, in the Finals. Take a look at the video below (start at the 7:13 mark):