Larry Bird Fires Jab at Isiah Thomas When Reminiscing About Famous 1987 Steal

Larry Bird

Getty Larry Bird recently threw a dig at Isiah Thomas when recalling Game 5 of the 1987 conference finals.

Larry Bird was always looked at as one of the biggest trash talkers in the NBA. The Boston Celtics legend still has it.

During a rare sit-down interview with former Indiana Pacers sharpshooter Reggie Miller and Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas over All-Star Weekend, Bird was asked about the famous steal he had during the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against Thomas and the Pistons. The play goes down as one of the biggest in Celtics history and allowed Boston to maintain its playoff dominance over the Pistons. Boston eventually won the series and made its fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

During the interview, Bird couldn’t help himself, giving Thomas some advice he should’ve used then.

Larry Bird to Isiah Thomas: ‘Call a Timeout’

Bird dug up some old wounds for Thomas and the Pistons during the talk that was aired on NBA on TNT. Miller asked Thomas and Bird about that Game 5 at Boston Garden that took place with the series tied at two games apiece and the Pistons holding a one-point lead and the ball with five seconds remaining.

That’s when Thomas hurriedly lobbed an inbounds pass intended for center Bill Laimbeer. Anticipating well, Bird picked off the pass, managed to stay inbounds, and hit a cutting Dennis Johnson, who hit a game-winning layup with one second left. Boston went on to win the series in seven games.

Thomas and the Pistons finally dethroned the Celtics in 1988, but the legendary Pistons point guard said the Bird steal and the ’87 loss to the Celtics were lessons learned.

“What did we learn from that?” Thomas asked rhetorically.

“Call a timeout,” Bird quipped, drawing laughter from Miller.

“Call a timeout,” Thomas replied, “and 48 minutes. After that, you started hearing us, 48 minutes, 48 minutes every play.”

Former Piston Rick Mahorn Said Pistons Coach Chuck Daly Wanted a Timeout

Thomas usually wasn’t the player taking the ball out of bounds for the Pistons. That was a job for forward/center Rick Mahorn.

During a 2020 episode of “The Cedric Maxwell Podcast,” Mahorn gave his version of what happened in the final seconds of Game 5 of the conference finals.

Mahorn just made a terrific defensive play to knock the ball off Bird’s leg, giving the Pistons the ball with five seconds left and holding a 107-106 lead. Then he couldn’t believe what he saw and how fast things happened.

“I’m looking at the bench,” Mahorn said, “and I’m looking at Chuck Daly, and Daly’s calling timeout. Isiah ran. I’m usually the one taking it out, but he ran and had a brain fart. He threw it in, and I was like, hell no. Why you taking the ball out? That’s my job.”

Bird explained what he saw on the play in a video posted by NBA History.

“If a guy’s taking the ball out of bounds, you want to put some pressure on him to make him throw a lob pass or a soft pass out there,” he said. “Once I seen the ball being lobbed over (Jerry) Sichting’s head, I thought I had a chance at it. I got my hand in there and stole it. And just as I got it, I seen a white jersey streaking down toward the basket, and I turned. It was DJ, of course. He gets it and lays it in.

“It’s just one of them plays that happens so quick, you didn’t have time to react.”

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