May 29, 1980
Named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists, and leading the Celtics to a then-record 32-game improvement (29-53 to 61-21). Also is named to the All-Rookie Team and first-team All-NBA; finishes third in MVP voting.
Bird's impact on the Celtics was immediate. The Celtics were 29–53 during the 1978–79 season, but with Bird the team improved to 61–21 in the 1979–80 season, posting the league's best regular season record. Bird's collegiate rival, Magic Johnson, also had entered the NBA in 1979, joining the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1980, despite a strong rookie season from Johnson, Bird was named the league's Rookie of the Year and was voted onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team (an honor he would receive for each of his 12 full seasons in the NBA). For the 1980 season, Bird led the Celtics in scoring (21.3 points/game), rebounding (10.4 rebounds/game), steals (143), and minutes played (2,955) and was second in assists (4.5 assists/game) and three-pointers (58). Though Boston was beaten by the more athletic Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals that year, Bird's addition to the team had renewed the promise of Celtic glory.
The 1979-80 Celtics improved by 32 games to 61-21 and returned to the top of their division. Playing in all 82 contests, Bird led the team in scoring (21.3 ppg), rebounding (10.4 rpg), steals (143), and minutes played (2,955) and was second in assists (4.5 apg) and three-pointers (58). Although Magic also turned in an impressive first season for the NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers, Bird was named NBA Rookie of the Year and made the first of his 12 trips to the NBA All-Star Game.