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Tale of two "Riflemen" and one tough marksman, Larry Bird

 There are various links between the late actor/pro athlete Chuck Connors and former NBA players Larry Bird and Chuck Person.


Connors played for the Boston Celtics in the late 1940's and had the distinction of being the first pro basketball player to break a backboard (per Wikipedia):

During his tenure with Celtics in 1946, Connors became the first professional basketball player to break a backboard. He did so during pre-game practice before the Celtics' first home game of their inaugural season with a shot and not a slam dunk, which is what typically breaks a backboard in modern basketball. He played 53 games for Boston before leaving the team early in the 1947–48 season.

Chuck Connors played the role of Lucas McCain in the popular TV series, The Rifleman, in the 1950's. McCain was portrayed as a man of peace - who somehow managed to kill at least one or two bad guys per episode.

Chuck Person was named "Chuck" by his parents after Chuck Connors and picked up the nickname, The Rifleman, for the same reason. He played six seasons for the Indiana Pacers and was klnown for his shooting touch. 

Person was also a foe of Larry Bird on the hardwood and battled Bird in Game-5 of the famous 1991 first-round Eastern series between Boston and Indiana. This is the one where Larry hit the floor hard - was forced to leave the game - and returned to eliminate the Pacers - with the Celtics moving on in the series.(per The Athletics Jared Weiss):

The 34-year-old Bird had missed 22 games that season due to a compressed nerve and ruptured disc in his back and the pain had gotten so bad that he spent the night before Game 5 in traction in the hospital. When Bird had back surgery after the season was over, the surgeon said, “I don’t see how he played with what he had.”

Nonetheless, Bird was out there in an elimination game, leading with his ground-bound wizardry even if he looked like he would shatter if he tried to land from a layup. He was just starting to find his rhythm when, at the 4:37 mark of the second quarter, he dove after a loose ball. Bird went for it with his right hand and tried to brace for impact, but the hand couldn’t break his fall. He landed on his stomach and violently smashed his head on the ground.

 I recall the entire game well. Bird's return to the court has become legendary. He has always been known as one of the toughest players to take to the court.

There you have it - Connors, Person, Bird. Two "Riflemen" and one damn tough marksman. I enjoyed watching all three and still watch reruns of The Rifleman and clips of Larry Bird taking out the bad guys.








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