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Celtics superstar Larry Bird allegedly threw a punch in...

BOSTON -- Celtics superstar Larry Bird allegedly threw a punch in a barroom melee shortly before his playoff shooting percentage went into a slump that was attributed to an injured finger, published reports said today.

A Boston bartender and an unidentified female friend are seeking an out-of-court settlement in connection with the alleged fistfight with the 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward, The Boston Globe said.

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Bird allegedly got into a scuffle the night of May 16 with Mike Harlow, a 35-year-old former offensive lineman for Colgate University's football team, according to the newspaper's unnamed sources.

'He (Bird) sucker punched me in the jaw,' the Globe quoted Harlow as saying.

The brawl allegedly took place in and around Chelsea's, a North End bar, two nights after the Celtics took a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.

The fight reportedly was about Harlow's unidentified female companion.

The Globe said Bird, accompanied by Celtics guard Quinn Buckner and friend Nick Harris, got into a 'shouting match and fight' that spilled out of the bar and onto the steet.

The Globe said a police car with lights flashing reportedly sped the wrong way down a one-way street toward the bar, although there is no mention of an arrest in Boston Police Department records.

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The Globe reported that records at Massachusetts General Hospital show a man named Nick Harris received emergency room treatment on the night of May 16.

The Globe quoted an unnamed witness as saying, 'There was a noise and a scuffle as they came across the street. Then Larry Bird went 'boom,' a nice swoop over the top with his right hand to the left side of the face.'

The witness said Bird was then pulled back into the bar.

Harlow is seeking an out-of-court settlement from Bird, while his female companion in a separate out-of-court action is seeking damages from Bird and Chelsea's, the Globe reported.

Bird's lawyer, Bob Woolf, did not immediately return a telephone call from United Press International.

However, the Globe said that Bird, when asked on the night of May 30 whether he was involved in the alleged incident, replied, 'No, and you can tell whoever made that up ...'

The Globe said Bird's performance on the court slumped after the alleged fracas, comparing a pre-May 16 playoff average of 29.9 points per game with a post-May 16 average of 22.2 points per game.

Bird's right index finger was noticeably swollee before the May 19 game against Philadelphia, but Celtics General Manager Jan Volk said his information indicates the injury was received on the court.

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Although the Celtics went on to beat the 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals, Boston lost the NBA Championship 4-2 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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