The NBA is the most popular basketball league in the world, which generates a plethora of money for the league. But three or four decades ago that wasn't the case for the league. Although its popularity was aggressively spreading across the world, it was still maybe not enough.
During the 1980s, the league's faces were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Obviously, most wanted to see a matchup of the two superstars in the NBA Finals. That happened for the first time in the 1984 NBA Finals when the Lakers and the Celtics faced off against one another.
It was a terrific series that went to seven games, with the Celtics ultimately winning the title. This was Bird's second NBA title of his career and this time around he bagged the Finals MVP award as well.
While Bird must have been happy to win the second ring of his career, he made a huge accusation towards David Stern, the league's commissioner, at the time. The Boston Globe newspaper for his comments quoted Bird.
"Stern told a fan that the NBA needed a seven-game series, that the league needed the money. When the commissioner makes a statement like that to a fan, you know it’s going to be tough. When Stern makes a statement like that, things are going to happen... You just don't make statements like that and expect anything out of it. He's the commissioner and he shouldn't be saying anything like that... The NBA wanted a seventh game because they wanted to make more money and they got their wish."
Bird refused to reveal how he learned about Stern's comments and he never got an actual reply from Stern, at least not that anyone was aware of.
Whether Bird was right or not, there is no way to prove it. Even if Game 6 of the finals was rigged, it didn't stop Bird from dominating the finals. Maybe if his team had lost Game 7, then things could have gone a little bit out of hand.
After all, we are well aware that Larry Bird was one of the best trash talkers and even Michael Jordan revealed that he learned trash talking from Bird. So all things considered, if the Celtics had lost that year's championship, things could have turned ugly.