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When the Game Was Ours


When the Game Was Ours Cover




APRIL 9, 1978

Lexington, Kentucky. The errant shot came off the glass at a sharp angle, but Larry Bird, charting the flight of the ball, pulled down the rebound and advanced without hesitation, swiveling his head as he examined his options.

Earvin Johnson had already begun to head down the court the moment the ball was in flight. Hed been playing with Bird for only six days on a team of college All-Stars in this international round-robin competition, yet already Johnson had determined that Bird was the most resourceful rebounder they had.

Bird filled the center lane, and Magic streaked down the right side, calling for the ball, but the forward looked away, as if he had pressing matters elsewhere. For one brief instant, Magic was disappointed. “I guess hes not going to give it to me,” he murmured.

And thats when it came: a behind-the-back missile that landed directly on Magics right palm. It remained there just long enough for Johnson to disarm defender Andrei Lapatov with a crossover dribble, then sling it back over his shoulder with a no-look feed to Bird.

Indiana States star barely aligned the seams before his touch pass was back to Magic, leaving no time for the overmatched Soviet player to react. As Johnson banked in the lay-up, the crowd at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, roared with delight.

Magic turned and charged toward Bird to offer him his signature high-five. Bird slapped the teenagers hand, and the two jogged back down the floor, side by side, one skipping, clapping, and celebrating as he went, the other, head down, expressionless, as if nothing remarkable had occurred.

The intertwined basketball journey of Earvin Magic Johnson and Larry “Joe” Bird had officially begun—as teammates.

Johnson had never met Bird before the tournament. He was stunned at how well the forward passed the ball, and when Bird fed him the no-look pass, Magic told himself, “Im not going to let this guy upstage me.”

“It was an incredible three seconds of basketball,” Magic said. “It was boom, boom, boom! Im thinking, ‘Man, I love playing with this guy! And believe me, the crowd loved it too.”

Some thirty years after that collaborative transition basket, executed against the Soviet Unions national team when Magic was just eighteen years old and Bird only twenty-one, both remember the play with startling clarity.

“The defender was stumbling to keep up with us,” Bird recalled. “We were coming at him so fast that his head was going around and around, and he ended up in a circle. I was sort of laughing, because the poor kid didnt have a clue.”

He wasnt the only one. No one thought to chronicle the footage of Bird and Magics wizardry in the open floor. There were no breathless descriptions of the artful passers in the morning papers. In 1978, though both had displayed a developing basketball pedigree, they were not widely recognized as elite players. At that juncture, neither had won an NBA championship, a league MVP, or, for that matter, an NCAA title. The irony of Bird and Magic commencing their storied relationship as teammates did not register because their parallel careers had not yet evolved into one of the compelling rivalries in basketball history.

“They were certainly good,” noted Michael OKoren, their tournament teammate, “but they werent Magic and Larry—not yet.”

Instead, Johnson and Bird were second-stringers on an amateur basketball team participating in an international round-robin competition called the World Invitational Tournament, or WIT, attempting in vain to prove to the coach, Joe B. Hall, they were worthy of prime-time minutes.

Although Bird and Magic occasionally shared knowing glances when the two of them outwitted the starters in practice, Bird revealed little of himself to Johnson. He was a young man of few words—until he went back home to French Lick, Indiana, and tracked down his brother, Mark Bird.

“Ive just seen the best player in college basketball,” Larry gushed. “Its Magic Johnson.”

Product Details

Bird, Larry
Mariner Books
Hammel, Bob
Johnson, Earvin
Knight, Bob
Macmullan, Jackie
Araton, Harvey
Basketball - Professional
Sports - General
Sports and Fitness-Basketball General
Sports and Fitness-Sports General
Baseball - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
8-page b/w insert
8 x 5.31 in 0.75 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Sports
Featured Titles » Science
Reference » Sale Books
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Basketball » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General

When the Game Was Ours Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Mariner Books - English 9780547394589 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the moment Larry Bird and Magic Johnson took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle. Their uncommonly competitive relationship came to symbolize the most thrilling rivalry in the NBA.
"Synopsis" by ,
A compelling, up-close-and-personal portrait of basketballand#8217;s most inimitable duo. It is also a rollicking ride through professional basketballand#8217;s best times, the golden age of hoops for the boomer generation.and#160;
"Synopsis" by , In this pragmatic and inspirational book, legendary firebrand basketball coach Bob Knight, the second-winningest coach in the history of the NCAA, turns conventional thinking on its head and challenges us to use negative thinking instead.

"Synopsis" by , Narrative of the friendship that's developed between Ron Guidry and Yogi Berra as a result of Berra's annual trips toand#160;Florida forand#160;Yankees spring training.
"Synopsis" by , Norman Vincent Peales The Power of Positive Thinking, a classic bestseller, has inspired an optimistic perspective for millions of Americans. Now, in an inspirational and entertaining rebuttal, the legendary basketball coach Bob Knight explains why "negative thinking" will actually produce more positive results, in sports and in daily life. Coach Knight, the second-winningest coach in NCAA history with 902 victories, explains that victory is often attained by the team that makes the fewest mistakes. His coaching philosophy was to instill discipline by "preparing to win" rather than hoping to win. That meant understanding the downside and drilling his teams to prevent the things that could go wrong. And when his teams did win, he made sure they didnt dwell on their success, but rather looked immediately to the challenges of the next game. He applies this lesson to business strategy as well.
"Synopsis" by , 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 compelling rivalry in the NBA. These were the basketball epics of the 1980s and#8212; Celtics vs Lakers, East vs West, physical vs finesse, Old School vs Showtime, even white vs black. Each pushed the other to greatness and#8212; together Bird and Johnson collectedand#160;eight NBA Championships, six MVP awards and helped save the floundering NBA at its most critical time.and#160;When it started they were bitter rivals, but along the way they became lifelong friends.and#160;and#160;

With intimate, fly-on-the-wall detail, When the Game Was Ours transports readers to this electric era of basketball and reveals for the first time the inner workings of two players dead set on besting one another.and#160;From the heady days of trading championships to the darker days of injury and illness, we come to understand Larryand#8217;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 and its truly exacting toll.and#160;In Magic we see a young, invincible star struggle with the sting of defeat, not just as a player but as a team leader.and#160; We are there the moment he learns heand#8217;s contracted HIV and hear in his own words how that devastating news impacted his relationships in basketball and beyond.and#160;But always, in both cases, we see them prevail.

A compelling, up-close-and-personal portrait of basketballand#8217;s most inimitable duo, When the Game Was Ours is a reevaluation of three decades in counterpoint.and#160;It is also a rollicking ride through professional basketballand#8217;s best times.

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