Larry Bird & Ervin "Magic" Johnson
By Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Jackie MacMullan
When The Game Was Ours
To illustrate the moment these two legendary players took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle. In Celtic green was Larry Bird, the hick from French Lick with laser-beam focus, relentless determination, and a deadly jump shot, a player who demanded excellence from everyone around him. On the other hand, Magic Johnson was Mr. Showtime, a magnetic personality with all the right moves. Young, indomitable (in-dom-it-able) , he was a pied piper in purple and gold.
Their uncommonly competitive relationship came to symbolize the most thrilling rivalry in the NBA―East vs. West, physical vs. finesse, old school vs. Showtime, even white vs. black. Each pushed the other to greatness, and together Bird and Johnson collected eight NBA Championships and six MVP awards, a solution came with Larry and Ervin to help save the NBA, who at the time was in a dark age due to the surplus of crimes and drugs. At the start they were fierce rivals who wanted nothing but to beat the other, but not long after they became lifelong friends.
From the heady days of trading championships to the darker days of injury and illness, we come to understand Larry’s obsessive devotion to winning and how his demons drove him on the court. We hear him talk with candor about playing through chronic pain. In Magic we see a star struggle with the sting of defeat, not just as a player but as a team leader. When he learns he has contracted HIV we hear in his own words how that devastating news affected his relationships in basketball and beyond. But always, we see both these men prevail.