Written by Hombre Divertido
Released on DVD from HBO Home Video on September 28th, Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals is more than a story of two basketball players. It is more than a story of two athletes. This is a story of two men. Two completely different types of men brought together by a game, but kept together by what is quite possibly their only similarity: passion.
Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird are arguably two of the greatest basketball players ever to lace up their shoes, and each has a legacy worthy of its own documentary. This new release does an excellent job of telling both their individual stories, as well as that which will have them intertwined forever.
With narration by Liev Schreiber, the team at HBO has produced an excellent documentary that transports the audience to the streets of Michigan and Indiana so that an understanding of where the lives of these two men started, and how their lives were shaped, can be realized and appreciated.
Many credit the rivalry between Magic and Bird with revitalizing, if not downright resurrecting, the NBA. As seen in the documentary, their participation in the 1979 NCAA Championship also clearly laid the groundwork for what is now “March Madness” and one of the most popular sporting events of the year.
Yes, two great players with incredible careers, but more so, two unique men with different backgrounds and personalities, that developed a bond that remains strong today. It can easily be argued that Magic and Bird played the game of basketball with a passion and intelligence that is only rivaled by each other. Their respective basketball intelligence quotient is seen throughout their careers, while their completely different off court personas are chronicled as well.
HBO manages to tell a complete story, and that is what ultimately makes this project work. With the exception of 1992 Olympic Team experience, the documentary gives the audience the perfect amount of time on each segment of the two stars’ careers and their time together. Their first real off-court experience while filming a commercial gives a wonderful account of the two men finding common ground and developing an off court respect for each other.
In the case of the Dream Team, this segment of their lives could easily fill another documentary, and though it was at the end of their respective careers, more time should have been dedicated to their time together during this experience as well as this time in their lives.
The basketball highlights are excellent here, but it is the interviews that keep this piece moving and truly bring it to life. More time with the two of them together on camera would have made this a perfect investment in time.
Recommendation: You don’t need to be a basketball fan to appreciate what these two players accomplished, who they are as people, and how they were brought together on and off the court. Great entertainment and education for the whole family.