Boston was well on their way to winning the game when the bad blood started. Bird had put up a tremendous 42 points and seven rebounds by the fourth quarter, and supposedly took every opportunity to remind the Doctor of his running tally. The bad vibes–heightened, no doubt, by a near half-decade-long playoff rivalry that had blossomed between the two teams–grew until the two stars eventually came to blows, inciting a bench-clearing brawl in the process. Avowed Celtics fan Bill Simmons, who was at the game as a young’n, described the experience as being like watching a fight between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Both players were ejected for the reaminder of the fourth quarter. The Celtics won the game, 130-119, and they went on to be the dominant team in the rivalry for the rest of the decade, making three further finals appearances to the Sixers’ zero.
The height of the confrontation was captured in one of the most memorable sports photos ever taken.