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Sports Then and Now




Book Review: When The Game Was Ours

Posted on December 04, 2009 by Joe Gill

“When The Game Was Ours”

Written by: Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullan

What can I say about this book? For one, I could not put it down.

This is a must read for any sports fan.

This is a must read for any sports fan.

A book has to grab my attention right away or it finds its way to the Land of Lost Toys AND Books.

“When The Game Was Ours” did not find its way to that place. This book brought me back to memories of my youth.

As a child of the 80’s, my fondest sports memories were of Celtics-Lakers on Sunday afternoons.

Bird. McHale. The Chief. Magic. Worthy. Kareem.

These are all names that are interwoven into the fabric of my sports soul.

To say I was excited to read this book is an understatement!

The journey starts with the tandem of Bird and Johnson telling the stories of their childhoods in French Lick and East Lansing. You learn about their high school playing days and how they were courted by the big time college basketball programs.

Bird would choose the powerhouse of Indiana coached by the infamous Bobby Knight and Magic stayed with his hometown school of Michigan State.

You will discover the reasons for Bird’s transition from Indiana to dropping out of school and then being wooed by Indiana State. Bird was very close to cutting his basketball career short.

The rivalry between Magic and Bird would start in college culminating with the 1979 NCAA championship.

This is when Magic and Bird followed each other’s career obsessively.

This is when the rivalry bloomed.

This is when the NBA became relevant again.

Magic won a championship with the Lakers in 1980. Bird had to win one himself which he did in 1981.

Bird and the Celtics would beat the Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals.

Bird finally got even with Magic for his NCAA title game loss.

Magic would return the favor in the 1985 NBA Finals.

Their competitive fire was burning hotter than ever.

Both players had an admiration for the other but had no off court relationship at all.

However, that all changed in the fall of 1985.

A Converse commercial brought the two together.

They would realize they had a lot in common.

They became friends and kindred spirits.

Magic and Bird would meet again in the Finals in 1987. Magic’s Lakers would come out on top again.

However, their friendship would continue to grow.

Larry was there for Magic when he was diagnosed with HIV in November 7, 1991, which generated a league wide scare.

You will also read about the strain of the friendship between Magic and Isiah Thomas. It would be a relationship that started to deteriorate after Thomas’ racial comments about Larry Bird and then his questioning of Magic’s sexuality.

Magic and Bird forged their friendship on a Converse commercial shoot back in 1985.

Magic and Bird forged their friendship on a Converse commercial shoot back in 1985.

You will also get inside information and stories from the 1992 Olympics and the Dream Team. A new rivalry between Magic and Jordan would be formed. Bird and Jordan would become close friends at the same time. And Isiah Thomas would be left off the roster for a variety of reasons.

These are just some of the stories and moments you will learn about Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird in their own words.

You do not have to love the Celtics or Lakers. This is a must read for any basketball or sports fan. If you want to learn how the NBA was saved and rejuvenated, pick up “When The Game Was Ours.”

Makes a great holiday gift as well!


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