Larry Bird and Dr. J fought it out at the Garden, 35 years ago today

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The Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers rival is pretty heated now as the two vie for Eastern Conference supremacy and the Sixers, who poached Al Horford from the C’s in free agency, are responsible for Boston’s lone loss so far early in the NBA season.

Still, it’s got nothing on its ’80s heyday when in order to reach the NBA Finals, Boston had to go through Philly or vice versa.

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Things got very heated 35 years ago today when the defending champion Celtics hosted the Sixers at the old Boston Garden. Boston was 4-0, Philly 5-0. The best player on each team sparked a legendary brawl that saw future Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Julius Erving go at it (see the video above). 

Bird had torched Erving and the Sixers for 42 points in 30 minutes (Dr. J had been held to six points) when an offensive foul call on Bird led to a scuffle that saw the benches empty and the two stars throw down.

The melee produced an iconic photo by the Boston Globe’s Ted Gartland, working that night for the Associated Press, of Bird grabbing Erving by the throat (see below) and resulted in $7,500 fines each for Bird and Dr. J, which at the time were the second-highest fines for player conduct in NBA history.

Oh, and the Celtics won, 130-119. 

Julius Erving (Dr. J) and Larry Bird fight at the Boston Garden, Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Nov. 9, 1984.

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Larry Bird and Dr. J fought it out at the Garden, 35 years ago today originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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