With all due respect to John Havlicek stealing the ball or any of the legions of epic moments in Celtics history, Gerald Henderson submits his clutch steal in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals into the discussion for the franchise’s greatest play of all time. And he is not entirely wrong.
Henderson responded to a past claim by popular Celtics blogger John Karalis that Larry Bird‘s steal against the Pistons in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals — the one where Johnny Most announces, “There’s a steal by Bird! Pass underneath to D.J., lays it in! What a play by Bird!” — was the greatest play in Celtics history. Henderson begs to differ, and he has a point.
“Not too long ago, you called Larry Bird’s steal against the Pistons in ’87 the best play in Celtics history,” Henderson says in a video message to Karalis at Red’s Army. “Well, as you know, that’s not true. It was one of them. It was a fantastic play by ‘The Legend,’ but you forget about my steal in Game 2 of the ’84 Finals.
“The Lakers were so stunned that Magic [Johnson] — ‘Tragic Magic’ at the time — he ran out the final play, dribble, dribble, dribble.”
For whatever reason, Henderson’s steal has not reached the notoriety of Bird’s, even though Henderson’s theft led to an NBA championship and Bird’s did not. (The Celtics went on to lose to the Lakers in the 1987 Finals.) Most’s call of Henderson’s steal was every bit as great as his call for Bird’s.
“It’s picked off! Goes to Henderson, he lays it up and in!” Most yelled. “It’s all tied up! What a great play by Henderson!”
Check out Henderson’s message and his memorable play below.