Boston Celtics

This Date in NBA History (May 14): Boston Celtics begin 1980s' dynasty with 14th NBA Championship in 1981 & more

On May 14th in 1981, the Boston Celtics clinched their 14th NBA championship with a 102-91 win against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the 1981 Finals.

Cedric Maxwell, who was later named 1981 Finals MVP, finished with 19 points (7-of-11 FG), six assists, and five rebounds in 40 minutes. En route to becoming the third Celtic to win the Finals MVP award, Maxwell averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the Finals series.

Larry Bird, who was just a sophomore, played a game-high 43 minutes and tied a game-high 27 points (11-of-20 FG) while also finishing with 13 rebounds and five assists. By the numbers, he was the biggest contributor on either team, with series averages of 15.3 points, 15.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.3 steals

In Game 1 of this series, he pulled off one of the most iconic and memorable plays in Finals history:

This championship sparked yet another dynastic run for the franchise. In the span of seven seasons (1980-87), they made five Finals appearances where they won three (1981, 1984, 1986).

The 1981 championship was the Celtics' 14th NBA title in franchise history, all which came in the span of the previous 24 years and the first since 1976.

Having said that, the Celtics it relatively easy in this Finals series as their last three wins in the 1981 Finals came by an average of 15.7 points. Arguably, the bigger achievement of that team was to come back from 3-1 down against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Finals.

At that time, it was the fourth time a team had come back from 3-1 down to win the series. For the Celtics, this was the second time in franchise history - having done it previously in the 1968 Conference Finals, also against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Other notable events on May 14th

  • In 1996, Earvin Magic Johnson announced his second and final retirement from the league. Earlier that year, he returned to the NBA after a four-year retirement to play 32 regular-season games and four playoff games,
  • In 1998, Chris Webber was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe. In the following eight seasons, the Kings made the playoffs each year including a Conference Finals appearance in 2002 and always won at least 53.7% of their regular-season games. The franchise hadn't won at least 53.0% of their games since the 1982-83 season.

Notable playoff eliminations on May 14th

  • In 1996, the 72-10 Chicago Bulls cruised past the New York Knicks 4-1 in the Conference Semifinals with a 94-81 Game 5 win. In the first round, they had swept the Miami Heat 3-0.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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