A good friend of mine who coaches eight and nine-year-olds in basketball recently told me his players relayed to him they didn’t know who Michael Jordan was. Sure, they’re bombarded of images of LeBron & Kobe to the point where they’re made to believe the NBA’s current crop of superstars invented the peach basket, but I assume some of the naive youngsters made the claims with a pair of #23’s on their feet. Shame really. If the kids are oblivious to the path trailbrailzed by the legendary MJ, then there’s no way they’re up to speed on the Magic Vs. Bird saga.
In efforts to have a story to sensationalize, rivalries of today are often fabricated and over-hyped and eventually, exposed once they don’t amount to much. The legend of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson was a deep-rooted one; a tale of friendship and respect that was only trumped by a desire to compete. Which of course, made the world of professional basketball an engrossing event to watch night in and out. And fate couldn’t have designed a better faceoff. From battling it out on college basketball’s biggest stage–the NCAA Championship in 1979 to dazzling audiences with three NBA Finals matchups in the 80s, the level of play was extraordinary. Unless you bled yellow or green, satisfaction was guaranteed no matter the outcome.
Not to mention the ultimate game that was played off the court: the game of “Life.” HBO Sports are the most recent correspondents to tackle the intertwining of the two living legends and their coverage goes beneath the surface of the hardwood. In all his shining glory, few would recall the days when Larry’s era was coming to an end with a serious of back injuries and public recluse. Or the events that caused the split between Earvin Johnson and “Magic,” the playboy, the Hollywood philanderer; the events which forced his career to end so abruptly.
Even legends get pushed to the backburner as fresh faces vie for their former seating (whether by trait or by default). But as long as their stories get engraved in hearty documentaries such as Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, it won’t be long before the youth’s history catches up to them.