Three NBA championships have not quelled Larry Bird's hunger...


BOSTON -- Three NBA championships have not quelled Larry Bird's hunger for victory. Minutes after the Boston Celtics won the 1986 title, Bird was talking of winning more.

'My goal is to win as many championships as possible,' Bird said.


Bird, the league MVP the past three years, will do his part toward a fourth title. He promised to 'work harder' during the summer and return next season 'with three or four new moves.'

With 29 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, Bird dominated Sunday's 114-97 series-clinching victory over the Houston Rockets. His exhibition of determination and versatility earned him his second playoff MVP award in three years.

'He has so many tools, he's just incredible,' Houston's Jim Petersen said. 'He has the ability to take on a whole team by himself. All five guys at once. He says, 'I'm still going to score on you. I'm still going to make a play you can't defend.' He's the only guy in the league who can do that.'

The Celtics' individual abilities meshed into exceptional team play on offense and defense as they won 82 of their 100 games this season. Team president Red Auerbach, involved with all 16 of the franchise's championships, said this team might be the best of those 16.


'This team is one of the greatest, if not the greatest I've ever been associated with,' he said, 'especially over the long season. They just continued to produce, day in and day out.'

The Celtics are the league's oldest team and by next spring's playoffs, six of their eight top players will be over 30, including Bird, now 29.

The Celtics' future titles may depend heavily upon 33-year-old reserve Bill Walton, who spared starter Robert Parish from the grind of extended playevery game.

'The success of this team depends upon how healthy Bill Walton is,' Bird said. 'If he stays healthy, we'll continue to be successful.'

The Rockets' convincing 4-1 elimination of the Los Angeles Lakers proved they are the best team in the Western Conference and they probably have the league's best young big men in Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. But the NBA's 'team of the future' is still looking to the future after Sunday's 17-point loss.

'We're a young team with a lot ahead of us,' Sampson said after Sunday's defeat, in which he was held to 8 points, 2 in the first half when the game was decided.

'If we stay together, continue to work hard and improve, we will be back here again (in the finals), and we'll win it. I'm looking forward to being on top for a long time. You've got to get established first though, and this is one of those steps of getting to the top. You've got to lose before you win this thing. We are on the way to being the best.'


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