June 2, 1984

As the Celtics and Lakers arrived in Los Angeles for Game 3 of the 1984 NBA Finals, Boston and vicinity couldn’t stop celebrating the closing seconds of Game 2.

With LA having won Game 1 at the Garden and holding a two-point lead with 20 seconds left in Game 2, the C’s immediate future couldn’t have looked much dimmer. Kevin McHale missed two free throws, the Lakers had the ball.

The thought of a series sweep was not outside the realm of possibility.

James Worthy inbounded the ball to Magic Johnson. The Celtics’ press left Worthy, deep in the backcourt, as the only open man.

Johnson returned the ball to Worthy, who looked to get the ball closer to midcourt. As Worthy released his cross-court pass, Gerald Henderson stepped up to make the steal and drove it in for the game-tying basket. The Celtics won in overtime, 124-121.

Henderson, understanding the place he would hold in Celtics history, said he could hear Johnny Most shrieking, “Henderson steals the ball!” 

In Game 7 of the conference finals, Bill Russell tried to make an inbounds pass that hit one of the guy-wires holding up the backboard. Boston led, 110-109, with five seconds left.

Hal Greer took the ball at the spot where Russell made his errant inbound pass and saw Chet Walker open.

Timing his charge perfectly, Havlicek swooped in front of Walker, tipped the ball to Sam Jones, and Most made what was chosen as the greatest radio call in NBA history as part of the league’s 50th anniversary program: “Havlicek stole the ball!”

Havlicek’s advice to Henderson: Be prepared to answer questions about that play for a long, long time.