33 Things about Larry Bird’s 1988 3-Point Contest Win (other than him pointing to the sky)

Of the many famous Larry Bird basketball moments, his 1988 3-Point Contest win might be his most iconic. The warm-up jacket and the point to the sky before the final ball hit the net are quintessential parts of the Bird Mythology because they encapsulate in one snapshot just who Bird was as a player – uber confident, unapologetic and in your face. There are so many stories of Bird trash talking opponents, telling them what he was about to do then doing exactly that but here it was on display for all to see. Bird knows the ball is going in and everyone else is just trying to catch up.

Am I really going to go through 33 things about this video? No. This is Hi-Top not Buzzfeed. But there are some things worth pointing out.

This was not Bird’s best look

Yikes. Bird was an….interesting looking guy but this look…this look is not good. Blonde facial hair is very hard to pull off. Occasionally a blonde beard can be a good look. A blonde mustache is NEVER a good look and unfortunately Bird insisted on sporting a ‘stache for most of his career. Coupled with the shaggy hair mullet it wasn’t awful but when Bird went short it managed to bring the focus of Bird’s face on to the wispy mustache.

Michael Jordan marveling at Larry Bird is pretty great.

1988 MJ was a Herculean like force of nature ripping through the NBA. He won MVP and Defensive POY in 88. And yet here he is moments before he was about to cement an iconic moment of his own on to the face of basketball history and he is watching Bird in awe.

The 3-Point Contest was called the Long Distance Shootout

This is funny. In 1988 three pointers were such a minuscule part of the NBA that they thought naming the contest “Long Distance Shootout” would add some intrigue. “Oh they’ll be shooting from really far away. That’ll be interesting. I’ll watch that.” I just wish they had decided to name the Dunk Contest the Really Close Shootout.


The prize money was $12,500. And you can bet your ass Bird took every dime and put it right into his bank account.

Bird won with a 17

Dale Ellis put up a Final Round 15. Bird won with a 17. These are not very impressive scores.

This was Bird’s third straight win.

Bird won in 86, 87 and 88 – the first three times the contest was held. It’d be great to say he promptly retired at 3-0 but he did compete again in 1990 and lost.

I really don’t think there will ever be anyone else like Bird and I’m not even talking skill wise. He was just so nonchalantly badass. He was always a hick and could care less about looking cool but still did some of the coolest shit to ever happen on a court.

One comment

  1. Well done Dogg.

    Other Observations:

    He kept switching sides of the rack
    The Accouncers love pointing out how he “heats up” as he goes
    Sager’s conventional suit
    Larry Bird was apparently not actually that good at shooting 3’s- at least not by today’s standards.


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