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Old 08-21-2013, 04:48 PM   #1
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Default Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

When the biggest gaffes in the NBA Draft history are discussed, not many mention Larry Bird being drafted only 6th by the Celtics in the 1978 Draft. The general explanation is that when the Drafts were held, it was still unknown whether he'd immediately play in the NBA or he'd choose one more season at college (which he did).

Was it worth it however to ignore him for this reason? He was already having a huge impact in the NCAA, dominating for 2 seasons in a row, leading the small ISU to very good records, while not all college players chosen above him were equally impactful (not to mention they didn't come close to what he became - look at some of those names: Phil Ford? Rick Robey? Even Mychal Thompson didn't become what the Blazers might expect - the usual luck of the Blazers picking bigs ).

So, is being picked that low a blunder that should be placed higher in the All-time lists, was it an excusable mistake for all the teams that ignored him or something between (depending also on what each team looked for)?
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

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Originally Posted by Psileas
When the biggest gaffes in the NBA Draft history are discussed, not many mention Larry Bird being drafted only 6th by the Celtics in the 1978 Draft. The general explanation is that when the Drafts were held, it was still unknown whether he'd immediately play in the NBA or he'd choose one more season at college (which he did).

Was it worth it however to ignore him for this reason? He was already having a huge impact in the NCAA, dominating for 2 seasons in a row, leading the small ISU to very good records, while not all college players chosen above him were equally impactful (not to mention they didn't come close to what he became - look at some of those names: Phil Ford? Rick Robey? Even Mychal Thompson didn't become what the Blazers might expect - the usual luck of the Blazers picking bigs ).

So, is being picked that low a blunder that should be placed higher in the All-time lists, was it an excusable mistake for all the teams that ignored him or something between (depending also on what each team looked for)?

No, it's justifiable, back then Larry Bird was white.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there were some character concerns. Bird had already dropped out of one College (Indiana) because apparently he couldn't adjust, and took a year off before joining ISU. He had two amazing years (before being drafted) after that at ISU... but ISU isn't Indiana.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

The way the draft was set up then, there was no guarantee that a player drafted one year early would ever actually play for your team, so it was actually a very big gamble.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

As good as his seasons at ISU were, he wasn't really the household name until the '79 season and tourney run they went on. There were concerns about ISU's difficulty of schedule and just how tough the competition he was dominating was. The dropout from IU certainly didn't help him in the eyes of most pro scouts, either.

By the time he was national news, Red had already drafted him...but that was Red's uncanny ability to find talent in places no one else was looking. That's why he was willing to draft Bird in '78 with all the questions around him and then let him play another year in college before joining the Celtics.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

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Originally Posted by fos
No, it's justifiable, back then Larry Bird was white.

When did he turn non-white?
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

Auerbach drafted Bird while he was still in college because Auerbach was basically smarter than everyone else back then. Since that time the rules have been changed so that you can't draft someone a year before they turn pro.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

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Originally Posted by Real Men Wear Green
Auerbach drafted Bird while he was still in college because Auerbach was basically smarter than everyone else back then. Since that time the rules have been changed so that you can't draft someone a year before they turn pro.
This has always been my understanding,
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bird was picked only 6th in the 1978 Draft. Blunder or excusable?

The reason they could draft him was because the NBA had a rule back then that allowed teams to draft players still in college as long as their graduating class was eligible. But that rule only gave allowance for a year, so if Bird didn't sign the Celtics would have been left with a big fat zero as Bird would have had a choice to enter the 1979 draft. So it was actually a risk they took, and not a guaranteed home run.
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