If you have any interest at all in College sports history, or basketball history for that matter, this is a solid read.
Seth Davis does an amazing job of diving into arguably one of the greatest college basketball showdowns and dives in deeper to let us know why that was so special to not only their teams, but to the NCAA and NBA expansion and recognition.
I like to think of myself as someone who knows basketball and has a real interest in college basketball. This book had me highlighting, commenting, and interested in all of the knowledge and facts about how these two players helped to transform and gain interest in a sport that had little interest up until that point. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are known to many as two of the All-Time greats in the NBA. Not many people realize that these two faced off in dramatic fashion in the 1979 NCAA National Championship game. This matchup was one that helped to create a booming excitement within the sport and also led well to the exponential growth of the NBA when the two went to play for both Boston and Los Angeles.
What an interesting phenomenon to think that two players from different backgrounds and of different races could be two of the most impactful players in both college basketball and the NBA. Not only did they spark the increase in notoriety for college basketball, but they created a friendship off the court many years later out of mutual respect for the other and what they were able to accomplish.
Seth Davis goes deep into how the personalities of both players were far different, but the interests and competitiveness of both were top notch. Larry Bird, an Indiana recruit who transferred to Terre Haute to join the Sycamores, was a reserved man who wanted nothing more than to play basketball without all of the publicity that came with it. Magic on the other hand, was a beaming personality who loved to talk to the media and show off his charismatic smile.
All in all, this book is a great indication of how two of the greatest to ever play impacted a game on so many more levels than just statistics and championships. They created the March Madness that we now have each year and did great things in a time where college basketball and the NBA needed them most. Two that played against each other many times and were foes on the court came to have such great respect for the other and eventually become great friends.
Turing to Magic’s 2002 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Magic asked that Larry Bird, his rival from Boston, present him with the induction. Magic was a champion with the Lakers and had played with the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Instead of choosing one of his teammates or coaches from the Lakers, Magic only saw it fitting that he have his rival and best friend Bird do the honors.
Two of the greatest to play making the greatest impact on the game. Seems fitting, right? I highly recommend this one to any basketball fan, young or old