This Date In Celtics History: Larry Bird's iconic 1987 steal vs. Pistons

Darren Hartwell

One of the best plays Larry Bird ever made wasn't circus shot or crafty layup.

It was a steal ... and you know the one we're talking about.

On May 26, 1987 -- fittingly 33 years ago Tuesday -- the Boston Celtics trailed the Detroit Pistons by one point with five seconds remaining in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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The Pistons had possession and all hope seemed lost for Boston, until Bird read Isiah Thomas' eyes and stole the Pistons guard's inbound pass intended for Bill Laimbeer.

In one fluid motion, Bird corralled the ball, tip-toed the sideline and fired a pass to teammate Dennis Johnson, who converted the game-winning layup. Ballgame: Celtics 108, Pistons 107.


Bird's steal helped save the series for the Celtics, who lost Game 6 in Detroit but returned home to win Game 7 at the Boston Garden and advance to the 1987 NBA Finals.

Here are two other notable May 26 performances from the C's, who are 4-2 all-time in games played on this date:

May 26, 2012: Rajon Rondo becomes just the second player in Celtics history (after Bird) to record a Game 7 triple-double, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Boston defeats the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

May 26, 1988: The Celtics win another thriller over the Pistons, this time a 119-115 double-overtime victory in Game 2 of the 1988 East Finals. Robert Parish leads all scorers with 26 points and adds 11 rebounds.

This Date In Celtics History: Larry Bird's iconic 1987 steal vs. Pistons originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston