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Death of a Sports Term

By Eric Schlesinger

The Big Three, longtime phrase which identified three superstars coming together on one team, died Friday in New York City. It was 30 years old.

The phrase was born during the 1980-81 NBA season as a label for Boston's Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, three future hall-of-famers assembled to wreak havoc on the league. The phrase grew quite popular in the Greater Boston area, and even after the Big Three retired, its meaning was still understood by every Celtic fan.

The phrase gained new life in the summer before the 2007-08 season when the Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett (both future hall-of-famers) to team up with their own superstar Paul Pierce. Conflicted fans didn't know whether the phrase should be used for this trio. These conflicts were short-lived as the New Big Three won a title (and the hearts of many Celtics fans) in their first year.

Celtics fans were too excited at the time to realize that the phrase was slowly being killed. The phrase started being used more frequently throughout the league to describe a team's top three talents. Duncan-Ginobli-Parker. Bryant-Gasol-Odom. Novak-Mobley-Kaman.

The phrase reached critical condition this season after the Miami Heat surrounded Dwayne Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Chris Bosh who has played in 11 career playoff games. Chris Bosh who has done exactly zero important things in his NBA career (unless you include braiding his hair to further the belief that he is indeed from the movie Predator. The fatal blow was delivered on Friday when Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups were referred to as the Big Three before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third time this season. The phrase had officially been killed in front of a full house at Madison Square Garden.

While the term has technically died it is not expected that the phrase will be retired from use. The phrase will be making an appearance at tonight's marquee match-up when Philadelphia's Big Three of Iguodala-Holiday-Brand take on Golden State's Big Three of Curry-Ellis-Radmanovic.


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