NBA 75: Kevin McHale, forgotten in the presence of Larry Bird (TSN Archives)

The NBA celebrates NBA 75 players almost daily from now until the end of the season. Today’s winner is Kevin McHale, an Celtics icon who, at the beginning of his career as the sixth man in Boston, was described in The Sporting News only half jokingly by his NBA colleague as “not really an athlete.” And yet, in this February 23, 1987, TSN story, he was named the best striker in the NBA.

Who is the best striker in the National Basketball Association? In the world?

Ask any coach, general manager or NBA player. Ask the Russians, Italians or Spaniards. Ask anyone who knows anything about basketball and you can bet Kevin McHale will answer that question.

who is second

No one is close.

How long has it been like this?

Long time.

So why was McHale only All-Star three times in his seven years?

Mute fans, mute coaches and Larry Bird.

And why was he never on the second All-NBA team?

Dumb writers, dumb players and Larry Bird.

McHale may be an underrated superstar, but players who are lucky enough to be on the same team as Bird must be content to win championships, not individual honors. Few were happier than McHale, the 230-pound Boston Celtics striker who weighed 230 pounds, giving his opponents a go and Bird’s green.

During the All-Star break, McHale was sixth in the league with an average of 26.4, third in field goals with 0.603 and sixth in blocked shots with 2.43. He also had an average of 10 rebounds per game, 83 percent of his fouls, played a better defense than any other striker in the league, and played an average of almost 40 minutes per game.

Pretty good for a guy who’s authors and colleagues always ignore when voting for the All-NBA team.

“I think Kevin deserves it more than I do right now,” Bird said. “I think he had a better year.” He did everything much better than in previous years, because no one can stop him. Kevin is probably our most valuable player right now. “

But Bird is the league’s MVP for three consecutive years. Great, but should that have had a negative effect on the official recognition of McHale’s greatness?

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that it will interfere,” said Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley, who has nightmares when he thinks of connecting his attackers to McHal and Bird. “I think so one recognition can get one man. That it largely prevents other players on the team from gaining overwhelming recognition. What Kevin McHale did more than 20 points and a double jump every night – is excellent. I think it’s the most difficult A player in the league to defend one on one. He gets his commitment, but take Bird off the team and talk about MVP. All the time. “

Of course, McHale has given little thought to the less than critical issue of being on the front team of the All-NBA or MVP.

“Maybe it’s because of Boston,” McHale said. “Maybe it’s around legends like Russell, Cousy, Havlicek, Heinsohn and Cowens.” But other things don’t mean much. Looking back, I’ll always have those three master rings. They will be placed in a place of honor in my house. All other things, what does it mean, what do people say about you and what do people write about you? The paper turns yellow. Those rings will stay forever. “

It is true. Nevertheless, it seems inconsistent for McHale to be recognized as the best in his position and then never appear on the rosters.

“There are a lot of things that aren’t consistent,” McHale said. “But to tell you the truth, I don’t think about it or worry about it.” These are things that when you finish, you look back and say it was great to do this or that. But when I play, I don’t care. “

When McHale gets the ball inside, he not only uses his exceptionally long range to shoot through the defender, but always gets easy baskets with a fake pump and then takes one step to the basket. When blocked, it can fire a vanishing 12 feet with 60 percent accuracy

In defense, he can stop every attacker in the league one on one. NBA coaches officially recognized his defensive abilities last season when he was elected to the fully defensive first team

“It’s putting a lot of pressure on me,” Bird said. He’s a good intimidator and a good bullet blocker, so you can chase him all night.

In short, he is the best NBA striker. But you knew it.

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