The new owners of the Boston Celtics have agreed to pay the team's all-star forward Larry Bird $15 million over seven years, a deal that could make Bird the highest-salaried player in sports history.
Philadelphia center Moses Malone's six-year, $13.2 million contract includes $300,000 in incentives. Bird's attorney, Bob Woolf, said yesterday, "On a straight cash basis, Larry's deal is probably a little bigger."
On Friday, the NBA's Board of Governors approved Harry Mangurian Jr.'s sale of the Celtics to Donald Gaston, former Nets owner Alan Cohen and Paul Dupee for approximately $15 million.
"I'd met with (General Manager) Red Auerbach a half dozen times about this, and not that there was any animosity under the previous owner, but when the new owners were approved they immediately rewarded Larry for what he had done for this team in the past," Woolf said. "I think Larry Bird is the most complete player in the history of the game and the new owners obviously agree with me."
Woolf, Auerbach and Bird came to the agreement Monday and plan to sign a contract today. Bird, whose 22.2-point scoring average is but a small part of his overall excellence as a player, is entering the fifth year of his original $3.25 million pact. He was unavailable for comment.
The Celtics may have extended and greatly improved Bird's contract, but they still must contend with starting center Robert Parish, who has threatened to stay out of training camp and insists on a trade if his $650,000-a-year contract is not renegotiated. The Celtics have a policy against renegotiation.
Parish, who has three years remaining on his present contract, signed with the Celtics two years ago and avoided free agency. After four mediocre years with the Golden State Warriors, Parish was traded to the Celtics for the 1980-1981 season, a championship year for the Celtics. For the past three years, Parish has averaged more than 19 points and has made the All-Star squad.
Parish was upset when his substitute, Kevin McHale, signed a four-year, $4 million pact with the team.
"How can you pay a nonstarter more than a starter?" Parrish said.