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Bird's ties to Boston still strong

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  June 28, 2011 03:24 AM

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Rick Robey and Dave Cowens were essentially his welcoming committee, picking him up for workouts.

"They really took me under their wing when I got there," Bird said. "We were playing ball two days after I got there. I was very comfortable with the situation, and if I’ve got a basketball in my hand I feel at home."

The history of Boston sports is undeniable and Bird said as soon as he arrived he knew that if he excelled he had an opportunity to go down as one of the city's sports legends.

"The thing is, when I first went out there, I watched the fans react to their older players that they looked up to," he said. "Carl Yastrzemski and Bobby Orr and I was thinking that if I had a great career that I could be like them guys. So, I knew where my place was. They had great athletes before I got there and they had a lot of them after I left. You just try to fit in."

Bird brought three championships to Boston but when he retired in 1992 it took the Celtics 16 years to win another one. Len Bias's death in 1986 was shocking. As was Reggie Lewis's death in 1993. The franchise was reeling. Bird watched as it tried to struggled through some darker years in the 90s.

"Being in this business, I know how hard it is to rebuild, but Boston’s a major market," Bird said. "It should be a little bit easier for them because of the major money and the ticket prices and all that. But it’s always discouraging, you never want to see them do bad. I always root for them. If we can’t win it, I want them to win it. My ties to Boston are still very strong."

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