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When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball Paperback – February 2, 2010
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“There are no secrets anymore in sport. Good grief, the best eighth-grade basketball players in the country are ranked. With his careful telling of the romantic saga of Magic and Bird, Seth Davis reminds us what fun it used to be when we could still be surprised, when a whole sport could be turned upside down, right before our wondering eyes. It's a delight to relive all that with When March Went Mad.” ―Frank Deford
“I can't remember a behind-the-scenes story I have enjoyed more. A transcendent moment in sports that is so fully captured by Seth Davis -- I feel as if I was right in the middle of it all! Thanks, Seth, for the insight as to how this magical game is still a standalone event even thirty years later.” ―Jim Nantz
“There is a lot more to what is known as ‘the Magic vs. Larry game' than meets the eye. In When March Went Mad, Seth Davis does a superb job of shining a spotlight on many of those long-forgotten details.” ―John Feinstein
“Seth Davis's When March Went Mad evokes more than a special season. Through deft reporting, he takes you behind the scenes from Terre Haute, Indiana, to East Lansing, Michigan, and on to the famous championship round in Salt Lake City. Best of all, though, Davis captures Larry Bird and Earvin ‘Magic' Johnson as the young basketball genuises they were, basketball's yin and yang, equal but opposing forces who would transform the game. This is a fine piece of work.” ―Mark Kriegel
“There are only a few perfect combinations in the world. Peanut butter on toast, scotch on ice, and Seth Davis on basketball.” ―Rick Reilly
About the Author
Seth Davis is an on-air studio analyst for CBS Sports coverage of NCAA basketball and is an on-air host, reporter, and analyst for the CBS College Sports network. He is also a staff writer at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he has worked since 1995, primarily covering college basketball and golf. A graduate of Duke University, Davis lives with his family in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
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Top Customer Reviews
But this was before (gasp!) cable TV in any but a primitive form. There was no ESPN. There was virtually no way to see these teams unless you scored tickets in person. And so it was that one of the great rivalries in sports history could barely be seen, much less analyzed by sports fans around the country. Only when Bird met Magic in that season's NCAA finals, could basketball fanatics really see not just what the fuss was all about, but the future of pro and college hoops.
In "When March Went Mad," Seth Davis, a basketball analyst for CBS, tells the wildly entertaining tale of how NCAA basketball came out from behind the shadow of college football to become a sports juggernaut in its own right. Even in college, Johnson and Bird were basketball virtuosos, capable of bringing their teams up to whole different level. There was something new and different and even a little mysterious being played out in college hoops that year, which brought in its wake a new crop of superstars like Michael Jordan and college sports TV contracts generating literally billions of dollars a year.
And it all started with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
With excellent attention to detail, Davis tells the real story behind that storybook year, relating the ups and downs, the PR and game-day disasters, the come-from-behind victories, the challenges overcome almost daily by two teams who had been completely ignored pre-season by pundits and analysts.Read more ›
The two players would have many things in common, as well as some notable differences. Larry was more of a pure scorer, while Magic was more of a "catalyst" for his team's offense. Both players would move on & have remarkable NBA careers where they would continue their rivalry from the national championship game. Both would even become NBA head coaches; Larry was highly successful with the Indiana Pacers, while Magic's short stint with the Lakers was disastrous.
Personality wise, they could not be more different. Magic was gregarious and loved having a mic in front of his face. Larry, meanwhile, was diffident towards the media & preferred for the team as a whole to get the attention after victories rather than he personally. Magic always had a smile on his face, while Larry was known for his stoic expressions.
Such is the backdrop of the present book, which gives the reader a "behind the scenes" narrative of the 1979 college basketball season which culminated in perhaps the single most important basketball game ever played. It still holds the record for the highest ratings, and it elevated the game of college basketball to unseen heights. It also indirectly rejuvenated the NBA, which at this time was very unpopular.Read more ›
Lurking in the text is the complexity of Bird, who came from a background that almost guaranteed drift and failure but whose tenacity and integrity of his inner core won through. He clearly was less likable and more volatile than the persona presented by the press, and almost cruel in much of his behavior; he was also apparently a two-fisted drinker and enjoyed the resulting combination of party and put downs. This makes his growth and maturation even more impressive. The book hovers around this element of Bird but at a surface level. It also gives little depth about Magic's very different personality, that also seems to have had hidden quirks. These are two young men of whom perhaps there is little to discuss beyond what they achieved on court and there is little to say about that in words rather than through the televised game itself.
The writing is solid and avoids hype and purple prose. The material seems accurate in its quotes from and comments on players and coaches but the overall result is unexciting. There's little to criticize about it but little to enthuse about either.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read about this game. It reallly put college basketball on the mapPublished 8 months ago by Blake G.
The calendar confirms it. It really has been more than 30 years since Magic Johnson and Michigan State played Larry Bird and Indiana State for the NCAA basketball... Read morePublished 17 months ago by WDX2BB
The first NCAA final four I remember was 1977, but this was the one that really made college basketball (and the NBA) hot. ESPN may have succeeded anyway, but the Bird vs. Read morePublished on April 14, 2014 by Thomas Kelly
This is the first “Sports Book” I have ever read. It is the story of the 1979 NCAA finals; the story of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Simple Citizen
Such a great read. I find Bird's story far more interesting in Magic but I didn't hate any part of this read. Such a great book.Published on December 31, 2013 by Ethan S. Guymon
Our book club read this - an unusual choice for ladies but we loved it. It brought back the memories of not only this great game and its great players, but how the tournament... Read morePublished on April 2, 2013 by Gloria
First, some disclosure: I requested this book through the Amazon Vine program because I thought my boyfriend would enjoy it, since he's a die-hard basketball fan. Read morePublished on April 29, 2012 by atisheh
As much as this was about the game, this is also a statement about how College basketball became what it is. Read morePublished on April 2, 2012 by ..one small voice.
If you are a fan of college basketball, this is a great book to read, especially in March when the NCAA tournament is underway. Read morePublished on March 15, 2012 by B. Adducchio