Friday, March 06, 2009

The Origins of Bird vs. Magic

Although it's hard to believe, this month marks the 30th anniversary of the legendary matchup between Michigan State and Indiana State in the NCAA college basketball championship game in 1979 that thrust Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird into the national spotlight and onto NBA stardom.

Their individual popularity and rivalry transitioned well into the professional ranks as their teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, met several times in the playoffs throughout the 1980's and led the resurgence of the popularity of the NBA.

Seth Davis, a college basketball analyst for CBS and writer for Sports Illustrated, has written a book, When March Went Mad, that chronicles the 1979 championship game. has published an excerpt of the book that focused on how Bird ended up at Indiana State. You can read it here.

Another interesting slant on the game was that in the pre-Internet, pre-ESPN that existed in '79, many in the nation had heard about Larry Bird's feats on the basketball court but had never seen him play since Indiana State was not featured in televised games. Because of this, many people had assumed that Bird was black. What a surprise most of the nation must have received the first time they caught sight of the gangly Indiana farm boy.

I don't remember the game since I was only six at the time and didn't gain an interest in basketball until several years later, but the influence that one game had on the game of basketball is still being felt 30 years later.

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