Boston Celtics player Larry Bird allegedly threw a punch in a barroom melee shortly before his playoff shooting percentage went into a slump that was attributed to an injured finger.

A Boston bartender and an unidentified female friend are seeking an out-of-court settlement in connection with the alleged fistfight with the forward.

Bird allegedly got into a scuffle the night of May 16 with Mike Harlow, 35, a former offensive lineman for Colgate University's football team. "He (Bird) sucker-punched me in the jaw," the Boston Globe quoted Harlow as saying.

The brawl allegedly took place in and around Chelsea's, a North End bar, two nights after the Celtics took a 2-0 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA's Eastern Conference finals. The fight reportedly was about Harlow's unidentified female companion.

Bird's attorney, Bob Woolf, says he has received no demand for money damages following the claims. "It's kind of interesting," said Woolf, who also has served as Bird's agent, "I don't know what they're looking for.

"I spoke to Larry, and Larry says he was there and gives a completely different account of what happened."

Bird was not available for comment at his home in French Lick, Ind. . . .

Minor league basketball player Ralph McPherson is recovering from emergency removal of his spleen caused by injuries allegedly incurred when an opponent clubbed him with a baseball bat after a game in the Dominican Republic.

McPherson, 26, forward and leading rebounder for the Continental Basketball Association's Albany (N.Y.) Patroons, was playing in the Dominican summer league when he allegedly was hit with a bat by Ivan Mieses, 27, in the Sports Palace parking lot after Sunday night's game.