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When the Game Was Ours Paperback – October 1, 2010
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Amazon Exclusive: Bill Walton Reviews When the Game Was Ours
Bill Walton played in the NBA for 13 years, and in 1996, was named one of the top 50 players in NBA history. He's been an analyst for CBS Sports and NBC Sports, and since 2002, he's been a game analyst for ESPN NBA telecasts. Read his guest review of When the Game Was Ours:
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are transcendent, iconic and timeless standard bearers of excellence who changed "The Game" forever, always bringing out the best in each other and never failing to put a smile on all our faces.I was one of the lucky ones. I had the incredible good fortune to have witnessed firsthand the Bird/Magic rivalry. It was an intense and constant thing for us all. But even I didn't realize how powerful their connection was until I read When the Game Was Ours, a riveting and page-turning masterpiece that could only be written with the help of someone like Jackie MacMullan, who was there every step of the way and who sensed there was a whole lot more to their story than what happened on the court or got played over and over again on the highlight reels. In this book, Larry and Magic tell stories like they never have before. I was enthralled, page after page. Theirs was a unique relationship. They were polar opposites, but in ways few of us realized they were very much the same. They both wanted the same thing, day in and day out--to win. And did they know how to win. When the Game Was Ours perfectly captures the defining moments of their lives from the very beginning of their fiercest of rivalries through their constantly evolving historical relationship and friendship right up to the present. This epic tome is the capstone of their landmark careers. It is also so much more than anyone could ever dream for. When the Game Was Ours brilliantly explains why "The Game" will always belong to Larry and Magic.--Bill Walton
(Photo © Joe Faraoni/ESPN)
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
(Photo © Marc Serota RRA Media)
Photographs from When the Game Was Ours
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“MAGICBIRD, BIRDMAGIC really should be the titled “When the Game was Mine” because that is how they went after each other on the court. In When the Game Was Ours you will enjoy an exhilarating ride down one of the most competitive rivalries ever.”
"Finally—a book that tells the story of Magic and Larry from their vantage point. When the Game Was Ours took me inside their fascinating rivalry with new insights and revealing details about two men who evolved from bitter competitors into lifelong friends."
"At long last the great book on Bird and Magic—their own account, told from behind the scenes, inside huddles, confidential phone conversations, backseats of cars, and most importantly, from their inner hearts. Their book is alive with truth—it's a story of brilliance, brilliantly told with the help of prize-winning writer Jackie MacMullan."
—Sally Jenkins, author of The Real All Americans, Funny Cide, and It’s Not About the Bike with Lance Armstrong
"When The Game Was Ours is the ultimate insiders' account of the rivalry, the friendship, the tension and the bond between Bird and Magic that launched the modern NBA. A real treat for all hoops fans."
—Tom Verducci, author with Joe Torre of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Yankee Years
"You know that game where you pick a certain number of characters for your favorite dinner party of all time? (The one where you picked Gandhi, Babe Ruth, Li'l Wayne and, who was it, Jenna Jameson?) I just spent a couple of nights with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the lyrical When The Game Was Ours and they should be in the mix. They're funny, frank, anecdotal and just plain interesting. This book is terrific."
—Leigh Montville, bestselling author of Ted Williams and The Big Bam
"Unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration... Offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Highly entertaining . . . A thrill-packed, lively and moving dual memoir." -- Shelf Awareness
"A terrific read." -- Sports Illustrated
"Spectacular." -- Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe
"An unbelievable read." -- Improper Bostonian
"You have to read this book!" -- Conan O'Brien
"A must-have for any basketball fan." -- Jimmy Kimmel
"A winner...Deftly explores the relationship between the former NBA superstars that started at arm's length [and] became a lasting friendship." -- USA Today
"Greatness commands our attention . . . uplifting . . . If ever there was a two-man Dream Team, they were it." -- New York Times Book Review
"In MacMullan’s capable hands, the tale is re-energized . . . a wonderful waltz down memory lane . . . A compelling and enjoyable read, every bit as entertaining as watching Magic and Bird battling on the parquet." – Boston Globe
"Fascinating . . .The former Boston Globe reporter and columnist masterfully weav[es] the recollections of the two protagonists with those of dozens of observers . . .The book is at its most powerful when it hews close to its premise: the evolution of perhaps sports' greatest rivalry . . . The game of basketball has never been better than when it was theirs." -- Washington Post
Top Customer Reviews
When Magic and his Michigan State team met Larry's Indiana State team for the National Championship Game in 1979 it drew a 24.1 Nielsen rating, "THE HIGHEST IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL HISTORY, A NOTEWORTHY MILESTONE THAT REMAINED UNTOUCHED THREE DECADES LATER." From that time forward Larry and Magic were forever linked-compared-and-intertwined for the rest of their lives. A mutual hatred breeded mutual respect and in the end a lifetime friendship. Along the way they were universally credited with saving the NBA. "IN 1979 THE LEAGUES FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH CBS WAS WORTH $74 MILLION. BY 2002 THE LEAGUE HAD INKED A SIX-YEAR DEAL WITH ABC, ESPN, AND TNT VALUED AT 4.6 BILLION." The author's pull no punches as they both admit that starting in the aftermath of their NCAA showdown that one hated the other. After Magic won the NBA championship in his rookie year Bird now admits extreme jealousy. Though neither one admitted it in those days they each followed the others stats and accomplishments like madmen possessed. As some individual awards went Bird's way... Johnson felt slighted. But through it all they both admit this feverish competition between the two made them both rise to athletic levels they would never have reached without the burning desire to outdo the other. And then in 1985 they both agreed to take part in the now infamous Converse commercial entitled "CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON"... and Magic came to Larry's home in Indiana... and the miraculous took place. These two fiery... hating... competitors... started to talk and found out they were very much alike... and their childhoods were extremely similar. And then in the unlikeliest of scenario's they became extremely good friends. They realized then... and now... that their lives were forever interlaced. Magic couldn't go anywhere without people asking how Larry was doing... and Larry couldn't go anywhere without being asked how Magic was doing.
Any true basketball fan will not only share the exhilaration of the glorious pinnacles of the author's careers... but you will also feel the grief as their careers come to an end. And of course Magic becoming HIV positive. The definitive epitome of the friendship that had been born through these competitive games... was when Magic demanded that Larry be contacted and made aware of his disease before it was made public. Along with the accepted fact that Bird and Magic saved the NBA... potential readers will also truly enjoy the coverage regarding Michael Jordan taking the baton and leading the NBA to reach even higher goals. The detailed story telling regarding the 1992 Olympic Basketball Dream Team is a must read for all basketball fans. A scene between the greatest players in the world at the Olympic Village during a game of pool with Jordan, Magic, Larry, Barkley, Ewing... and others... as they banter between themselves as to who "was" the greatest... "is" the greatest... and "would-have" been the greatest... if time had been shuffled differently... is one of the greatest behind the scenes look at these famous stars I've ever come across. It is akin to the stalking of lions in the jungle as they contemplate changing the pecking order.
The rabid rivalry that was Magic and Bird raised each of these legendary "team-first" ballplayers to levels... that in this retrospection... they publicly agree... they would have never reached without the other. It's left to the imagination how much higher Jordan may have gone if he had had his own Larry or Magic in their prime. Basketball is forever greater because of this rivalry... and no discussion of one... will ever take place without a discussion of the other... for all eternity!
An excess of stats and game notes can be dragging, but When The Game Was Ours looks past that and focuses more on the personalities and relationships of the two superstars, both between each other and with their teammates, families, etc. Jackie MacMullan seamlessly goes back and forth between Bird and Magic's lives and you're guaranteed to learn something about either man you hadn't known before. For instance, I never knew Bird first enrolled at Indiana before transferring to Indiana State, nor did I know that Magic was recruited (unsuccessfully) by Coach Bob Knight at Indiana. Imagine if the two had played together for the same school...
To me, the most intriguing part of the book is the second half. Bird and Magic were becoming better friends, the Dream Team was assembled, and drama surrounded the end of their careers. Upon the very last page I found myself asking, "All this actually happened?"
But the book is not without its problems. Sometimes the time tripping got confusing for me. And the story really bogs down in the end.
Bottom line though is that I expect even the most avid fan of either man or team will find at least a couple of surprises. Recommended.