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Larry Bird One of the greatest basketball players of all time emerged from the small town of French Lick Indiana With a population of 2059 people around 1600 of them came to watch the Valley High basketball games especially the blond-haired shooting whiz with a funny smile named Larry Joe Bird Following a sophomore season that was shortened by a broken ankle Bird erupted as a junior Springs Valley went 19-2 and young Larry became a local celebrity Generous fans always seemed to be willing to give a ride to Birds parents who couldnt afford a car of their own As a senior Bird became the schools all-time scoring champion About 4000 people attended his final home game When Bird went on to college he found life very difficult He started out as an Indiana Hoosier but later left Bobby Knights team In 1976 Bird enrolled at Indiana State which had a 12-14 record for the 2 previous years Home- game attendance hovered around 3100 when he arrived but as he had done in Springs Valley Bird single-handedly packed the house and propelled his team to respectability He averaged better than 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Sycamores during his first campaign Season-ticket sales tripled TV stations showed film clips of Bird instead of commercials Students skipped class to line up for tickets eight hours before tip-off Larry Bird Ball was the most popular sport in Terre Haute The Sycamores went undefeated and reached No 1 in Birds senior year-that is until a Michigan State team featuring a 6-foot-9 guard named Earvin Magic Johnson knocked them off in the 1979 NCAA Championship Game Bird was named the 1978-79 College Player of the Year and left ISU as the fifth- highest scorer in NCAA history The Sycamores had gone 81-13 during Birds three-year career Then In
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