DIRECTOR: Ezra Edelman
did you know that basketball was not a very popular sport back in the late 70s going into the 80s? the tv ratings weren't great and even the championship games were broadcast on a tape delay. do you know who saved basketball? if you said michael jordan, not only would you be wrong, but you would make bryant gumble very angry. no kids, the two guys who saved basketball were larry bird and magic johnson. learn all about that - and so much more - by watching the great hbo documentary Magic & Bird: A Courtship Of Rivals.
it began in 1979 with the ncaa college basketball championship game where magic took round one by leading his michigan state team to victory over bird and indiana state. the next year they both entered the nba as rookies and the rivalry continued throughout the decade..
okay, so i'm sure some of you are thinking, "i'm sure its a good film, but i am really not a big basketball fan so it doesn't interest me." but then i say to you, "you don't have to be a basketball fan to enjoy/appreciate this film." then you say... okay that's enough of that, but the point is correct.
sure, a basketball fan, someone that remembers watching the bird/magic rivalry play out during the 80s will find the film very interesting, but even if the only basketball you know is tossing a crumpled up piece of paper into your waste basket at work so you don't have to get out of your chair, Magic & Bird: A Courtship Of Rivals is worth seeing.
the film goes beyond the basketball court and shows us who these guys really were and are. it tracks their friendship (which took a very long time to happen) and it tracks them individually over the years. and it does it in their own words. while the comments from all the sports writers and other players are great, it is the words from the two men at the center of it all that are the heart and soul of this film.
we get inside their heads and find out what they were really thinking at the time and how they really felt about everything that was going on around them at the time. Then, watching their relationship develop over the years and seeing the respect the two had, and still have, for each other is great.
you don't have to be a basketball fan to be moved when magic talks about how much it meant to him that bird was one of the first people to call him after he was diagnosed with hiv. listening to the two of them take us through their careers and relationship on and off the court reveals such human drama and emotion.
the fact that these two greats came along at the same time (just when basketball needed them) with such opposite personalities, and ended up on the two most storied teams in nba history, fighting each other for championships multiple times is really just almost impossible to believe.
basketball fans and those that remember watching the sport during the 80s have to see this documentary. but, if you aren't one of those people, but you walk into the room and your friend/spouse/lover/roommate/random dude/grandparent/sibling/etc... are watching it, then just sit down and check it out. you might be surprised.