Why was Larry Bird so special? And why does it matter to Celtics fans like me anyway? Well, as some of you may not be aware, Larry Bird is the only NBA (ABA stats included) player (unless I overlooked someone, and if I did please let me know) who is in the top 50 all-time in points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, and steals per game.
And look who is the closest active player: Kevin Garnett! All the more reason to believe in the Celts this year. Go KG, Paul Pierce, and the squad!
For the sake of looking at other close players, I allowed substituting blocks for steals in this analysis, but it didn’t matter. The issue is that no other player was able to average over 9.85 rebounds per game and over 6.06 assists per game (the respective cutoffs for 50th place in each category).
Larry’s rankings: PPG: 24.3 (16th), Rebounds/gm: 10.0 (47th), Assists/gm: 6.3 (39th), Steals/gm: 1.7 (26th)
Who are the closest players to Larry you may ask?
Wilt Chamberlain @ 4.44 assists per game avg. for 122nd place (I assume Wilt got at least 1.44 blocks per game. You could argue that Wilt might have matched Larry as the scoring of assists was harder to come by back in the day – so says the Big O anyway.)
Kevin Garnett @ 4.40 assists/gm for 123rd place (Just double your assist total for the rest of your career and you’ll be right there, Kevin!)
Oscar Robertson @ 7.5 rebounds/gm for 129th place (I assume the Big O would have gotten at least 1.33 steals per game, since in his last season when they started keeping track he had 1.1)
Elgin Baylor @ 4.31 assists/gm for 131st place (I assume Elgin would have got either enough steals or block to qualify him as well – this guy has crazy stats)
Magic Johnson @ 7.24 rebounds/gm for 146th place
LeBron James @ 6.9 rebounds/gm for 153rd place
Charles Barkley @ 3.93 assists/gm for 155th place
Chris Webber 54th in rebounds @ 9.8 and 135th in assists @ 4.24
Once again, it is always possible (though highly unlikely) that I am wrong about Larry being the only one to achieve this feat – if you find someone(s) I’ve overlooked please let me know. And no, I did not overlook Jordan, probably the greatest of all-time. He just wasn't in the top 50 in rebounds or assists.