BOSTON -- It's party time for Larry Bird.
Thousands of fans and sports figures were to be on hand Thursday night as the Boston Celtics' superstar's uniform No. 33 is hoisted to the rafters of Boston Garden.
The Garden event is a sellout, but there are no games scheduled.
It is strictly Larry Bird's night, a retirement party for a star who was forced out of action after 13 seasons by recurring back problems.
The retired superstar is being honored with a night of activities at the Garden, where he helped raise three more National Basketball Champsionships banners to the rafters.
Those with tickets were advised to show up early.
The Celtics have promised many surprises during the evening, as well as vintage videos and speeches.
Teammate Kevin McHale joked that he and Celtics center Robert Parish would probably have their numbers retired during a 20-second timeout.
During his career with the Celtics between 1979 and 1992, the French Lick, Ind., native won the league MVP three times during the regular season, in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He was the MVP twice in NBA finals, in 1984 and 1986, and once for the all-star game, in 1982.
Bird was a nine-time, first-team all-star. He is 11th in league scoring with 21,791 points, was eighth in steals, fourth in free throw percentage, fourth in 3-pointers made, and 10th in field goals made.
He also lead the Celtics in points-per-game average, 24.3.
Bird said the best Celtic team he played on was during the 1985-1986 season.
'I would honestly put that team up against any NBA team I ever played against.'
Bird also considered the Celtics best rivalry was with Philadelphia, not Los Angeles.
'LA was great, especially in a seven-game series, but to me nothing was better than those Philly games when I first started out.'
Bird's bad back finally did him in. His first recorded back problem was in 1980, and it became a recurring ailment until he had surgery in June 1991. After playing with the Olympic Dream Team last year, he announced his retirement in Aug. 18, 1992.