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When the Game Was Ours

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Book Overview

From the moment these two players took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle. Their uncommonly competitive relationship came to symbolize the most... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The best book about basketball I've ever read

Despite my Boston fandom, When The Game Was Ours is the best book about basketball I've ever read. I was too young to truly appreciate the play of the man often referred to as Larry Legend, but I've been well aware of his influence on the sport, not to mention the Celtics pride he exemplified. In his time, Bird was the Celtics. Magic Johnson was the Lakers, and this book shows just how alike - yet different - they were. An excess of stats and game notes can be dragging, but When The Game Was Ours looks past that and focuses more on the personalities and relationships of the two superstars, both between each other and with their teammates, families, etc. Jackie MacMullan seamlessly goes back and forth between Bird and Magic's lives and you're guaranteed to learn something about either man you hadn't known before. For instance, I never knew Bird first enrolled at Indiana before transferring to Indiana State, nor did I know that Magic was recruited (unsuccessfully) by Coach Bob Knight at Indiana. Imagine if the two had played together for the same school... To me, the most intriguing part of the book is the second half. Bird and Magic were becoming better friends, the Dream Team was assembled, and drama surrounded the end of their careers. Upon the very last page I found myself asking, "All this actually happened?"

Poignant, Funny, and Real--A Slam Dunk!!!

Do you appreciate a great human interest story, especially one that emphasizes competition and respect? Are you old enough to have lived through the Laker/Celtic rivalry of the '60's that was reborn in the '80's thanks to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? If so, run, don't walk to get a copy of "When The Game Was Ours"--it will be one of the most satisfying and gratifying reads of your life. Jackie MacMullan expertly weaves and intertwines the compelling story of these two true superstars from their first contact at a high school all star game in April of 1978 through all the glamorous and torturous stops thereafter in a superb attempt to portray the men behind what came to be the fiercest and most compelling player rivalry in NBA history. Two men from simple roots who ultimately captured the imagination of the entire world of basketball to such an extent they were forever after linked to one another by fans and by history. Using key dates of all-star games, divisonal playoffs, or world championship games, their story is told from each other's point of view with well researched comments thrown in from teammates and coaches at the time. Truly, the reader has an inside seat for the memories of two Hall-of-Famers who recreate the crazy, scintillating, individual and team rivalries that brought professional basketball back from the brink. Along the way, the reader comes to understand how these two proud and talented individuals saved the NBA from its lackluster and low-life reputation. Magic and Bird came along at a time when the NBA was floundering and dying. It was under-financed, under-marketed, under-seen, under-appreciated, and definitely unfocused. The compelling rivalry of these two individuals and their teams over a 12 year period did more to restore pride, respect, and financial stability to the NBA than anyone could have ever imagined or predicted. The real joy of this book for me was the personal real comments and feelings that Larry and Magic felt at the time---feelings that are sometimes excruciatingly poignant. There was always respect but often that was clouded by anger, jealousy, frustration, and the steely determination to best the other. Both were so alike in many ways--great passers and team leaders, superb shooters, focused determination and perseverance---yet so identifiably different---East Coast versus West Coast, Showtime versus Old School, extroverted ebullience versus introverted excellence, and, yes, white versus black. Lastly, there are fascinating insights and revelations in the book regarding little known or misrepresented issues from their playing years. Did Magic and Isiah Thomas conspire to "freeze out" Michael Jordan in his first all-star game? Who really blackballed Isiah Thomas from the Olympic Dream Team in Barcelona? Who was the first person Magic wanted his agent to call prior to the public announcement that he had contracted HIV? These and other mysteries are answered in this fast paced an

It's all about RESPECT

When the game was ours is ostensibly about the Bird Johnson rivalry but it has a single theme that overshadows and overrides the story both men. Respect. Respect for the work necessary to become great, respect for the game they played, respect for their opponents and respect for how the game they play should be treated. Over and over we see both players taking the trouble to improve themselves because they KNEW that the other was doing the same and unwilling to give the other the edge. Their differences fit perfectly with their cities, Magic with the "Hollywood" image and Larry mirroring the Ted Williams work ethic. The unbreakable link of their names to each other is even more fitting when you consider how obsessive they were with each other even when they were not actually facing each other. The stats the performances and the whole kit and caboodle made their linkage significant. It was all about respect. I also enjoyed the focus on both Dennis Johnson and particularly Michael Cooper as the defenders who made a difference against Johnson and Bird. I personally think Cooper is one of the most critical players to the Lakers championships and the fact that he doesn't get the credit he deserves is a crime. Again respect. MacMullan's tells the story well and the book flows so that putting it down is a struggle. It is sports writing like this that gives the Boston Globe its reputation as one of the greatest sports pages in the country (the singular reason for buying the Globe these days). That writing translates to book form as seemlessly as the behind the back pass from Bird to Johnson in their game together back in 1978 in Kentucky for a score! The players that followed the pair owe them (and Jordan) their rich contracts and their comfortable livelihoods. I would hope they would read it and understand what makes the NBA great. If you are a basketball fan, this book IS required reading. It respects the game, the subjects of the book and the reader. Buy it!

Magic and Bird Together Again At Last

I thought it was really cool to see a book about the rivalry that brought us a new and improved NBA that was Larry Bird and Ervin Magic Johnson. The two, as you will see, could not be further apart in so many was as they were. They almost played on the same college team, you find out, but then they play against each other for years in so many venues. The book is layed out so we have a target date or highlight date, whether it be the college finals, an allstar game or the NBA finals, you see each event as a time in history, from both of their perspectives and from those of others with a bit of history between events and from each of their lives. You learn a lot without brutal details about our two heroes. And really for some of us, that is just what they were. I hed the chance to talk to Ervin one day on the phone, really. He was a down to earth guy, and I thanked him for what he and Larry had done to the game. He said he heard that a lot. Interestingly, that was in 95, before he returned to play again. Who would have known that it truly was what got the game of Basketball back to what it could be. Jackie MacMullan does a great job weaving and bobbing through the lives of both. Passing back and forth between the two of them and scoring with each chapter. (sorry, I just could not help myself). This should go down as one of the most intriguing and best reads about pro basketball and even sports. This is a great book for those who experienced it, those who are interested in the game and even kids interested in the sport. It is written tastefully so young kids could read it. These were two men of character that started off as fierce rivals and went on to mutual respect and became great friends. To see all of this behind the scenes and how the two of them kept their game great is a treat. Highly recommend.

RICK SHAQ GOLDSTEIN SAYS: "YOU CAN HEAR FROM LARRY & MAGIC WHAT THEY FELT WHILE PLAYING IN NCAA &

For twenty-years basketball fans have heard and read from many sources what the true feelings of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were like as these two unbelievably competitive men changed the game of basketball. They were so totally different... and yet at the core... so totally alike. For the first time Larry and Magic collaborate to reveal what they "really" thought about each other through each and every step of their game-changing careers. It's like having a split screen with Magic on one side and Larry on the other as they share their childhoods... college... and NBA careers... and even their post playing lives. At the end of each historical milepost the split screen becomes one as both Hall of Famers summarize in real-time... adding comments that are more sage with the blessing of age and maturity. When Magic and his Michigan State team met Larry's Indiana State team for the National Championship Game in 1979 it drew a 24.1 Nielsen rating, "THE HIGHEST IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL HISTORY, A NOTEWORTHY MILESTONE THAT REMAINED UNTOUCHED THREE DECADES LATER." From that time forward Larry and Magic were forever linked-compared-and-intertwined for the rest of their lives. A mutual hatred breeded mutual respect and in the end a lifetime friendship. Along the way they were universally credited with saving the NBA. "IN 1979 THE LEAGUES FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH CBS WAS WORTH $74 MILLION. BY 2002 THE LEAGUE HAD INKED A SIX-YEAR DEAL WITH ABC, ESPN, AND TNT VALUED AT 4.6 BILLION." The author's pull no punches as they both admit that starting in the aftermath of their NCAA showdown that one hated the other. After Magic won the NBA championship in his rookie year Bird now admits extreme jealousy. Though neither one admitted it in those days they each followed the others stats and accomplishments like madmen possessed. As some individual awards went Bird's way... Johnson felt slighted. But through it all they both admit this feverish competition between the two made them both rise to athletic levels they would never have reached without the burning desire to outdo the other. And then in 1985 they both agreed to take part in the now infamous Converse commercial entitled "CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON"... and Magic came to Larry's home in Indiana... and the miraculous took place. These two fiery... hating... competitors... started to talk and found out they were very much alike... and their childhoods were extremely similar. And then in the unlikeliest of scenario's they became extremely good friends. They realized then... and now... that their lives were forever interlaced. Magic couldn't go anywhere without people asking how Larry was doing... and Larry couldn't go anywhere without being asked how Magic was doing. Any true basketball fan will not only share the exhilaration of the glorious pinnacles of the author's careers... but you will also feel the grief as their careers come to an end. And of course Magic becoming HIV positive. The definitive epitome of the friends
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