“I think I found another Rick Barry” – John Killilea, Former Celtic assistant coach and Scout during the 1970s.
It was a year or two after the NBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement and prior to the 1976 agreement, if you drafted an eligible junior, the player was your property only until he went back to school. Bird was a star player at Indiana State and the Celtics wanted him bad. Boston secretly spoke with Bird about becoming a Celtic.
Selecting Bird was a gamble for the Celtics. Bird had the option to sign with Boston, or play his senior year and get drafted the next following year. If Bird choose to play another year of college ball, Boston may not have the right to draft him. It worked out for both Bird and Boston. Boston selected Bird in the 1979 NBA draft. Bird led the Celtics to 3 championships for Boston and became a Celtic legend.