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When March Went Mad: The Game That…

When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball (2009)

by Seth Davis

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8514141,824 (3.76)2



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This is a readable book on an interesting subject.

It is funny about time. Larry & Magic's year was 1979, only 5 years after NCSU won the championship with David Thompson. The ACC, SEC, and SWC had just integrated. And already Bird was a great white hope. I don't know if Isaiah Thomas was right -- that Bird wasn't really all that good -- but it is certain that he is very white.

But I don't remember it. Bird was just so good. I saw ISU beat up on Purdue in 1979. And he was awfully good on the Celtics. I remember having a big argument with my mother, about whether the Celtic management was racist or whether they felt they needed white guys because the Boston crowd was racist. I probably tried to say it was both. But it wasn't Bird who was in question, maybe McHale, or Ainge, or even Jerry Sichting.

I saw MSU when they played at Purdue that year, and almost certainly watched the Purdue at MSU game on the TV. In those games Kelser was more impressive than Magic was.
  franoscar | Sep 3, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's been thirty years since Magic and Bird faced off in that game, but there was a great deal that led up to it. Davis combines the stories of the two players, their coaches, and the teams in a story that is still suspenseful, even though many readers will know how the game ended, and we all know what happened to the two stars. One quarter of all television sets tuned into that game on March 26, 1979. But, people probably had no idea they were watching a change in sports.

Davis tells revealing stories of Bird and Johnson. They both wore #33. They were both skilled passers who were competitive players. But, this book reveals how different the two young men actually were, and how different were the paths they took to that ultimate game. The book examines their stories, their lives, and their relationships on the teams.

The book unfolds in the entire season that led up to the NCAA final game. It's a compelling story, hard to put down. And, that season, and that game, led to changes in the coverage of NCAA basketball, changes in the NBA, and changes in how we watch sports. ESPN grew into a powerhouse, covering NCAA basketball. When these two stars showed up, they drew audiences to college basketball, and then to professional basketball.

And, here we are today, at "Selection Sunday". College basketball tournaments have riveted our attention. The selections today will be watched all over the United States. Many of us will fill out our brackets, and talk basketball every day for the next few weeks. Seth Davis does a wonderful job relating how two college basketball players, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, brought us to this point, with one game. If you love basketball, check out When March Went Mad. ( )
  LesaHolstine | Jul 23, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a great book about two of the best players in college and professional basketball, and the game that helped launch "March Madness." Davis is an engaging writer who weaves the personal stories of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and their teammates with the broader story of the changes taking place in college basketball, the NCAA Tournament, and with sports fans. A 'must read' for people who like college basketball that would also be an engaging read for the casual fan. ( )
  Michele | Jul 22, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Truly a magical time, that ushered in March Madness - seldom does an event match the hype but Michigan State vs. Indiana State, led by "Magic" Johnson, and Larry Bird met all the expectations, as a game, and setting for the ages. Both players demonstrated the skills that allowed them to succeed and exceed in college, with a preview to the pros, and the book captures this essence, which is as much of a challenge as guarding either of these college and future pro greats. Recommended highly - it's time to relive one of those special moments before the commercialization of the process - sit back and enjoy, you won't regret it! ( )
  DrMcDougall | Jul 14, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed this, it brought back so many memories of that year. I recall watching Larry Bird several times that year and marveling at his skills. The game itself really didn't matter - just to see Bird almost single-handedly lead a small school to the NCAA finals was enough. That being said, I didn't care all that much for Seth Davis' writing - the commentaries of the games were short and not that great. John Feinstein does this a whole lot better. ( )
  5hrdrive | Jul 11, 2009 |
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Book description
A great option for those who miss the "Golden Days" of basketball and want more info on two great players. Easy to read and filled with interesting information about both players.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805088105, Hardcover)

The dramatic story of how two legendary players burst on the scene in an NCAA championship that gave birth to modern basketball

Thirty years ago, college basketball was not the sport we know today. Few games were televised nationally and the NCAA tournament had just expanded from thirty-two to forty teams. Into this world came two exceptional players: Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird. Though they played each other only once, in the 1979 NCAA finals, that meeting launched an epic rivalry, transformed the NCAA tournament into the multibillion-dollar event it is today, and laid the groundwork for the resurgence of the NBA.

In When March Went Mad, Seth Davis recounts the dramatic story of the season leading up to that game, as Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans and Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores overcame long odds and great doubts that their unheralded teams could compete at the highest level. Davis also tells the stories of their remarkable coaches, Jud Heathcote and Bill Hodges—who were new to their schools but who set their own paths to build great teams—and he shows how tensions over race and class heightened the drama of the competition. When Magic and Bird squared off in Salt Lake City on March 26, 1979, the world took notice—to this day it remains the most watched basketball game in the history of television—and the sport we now know was born.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The dramatic story of how two legendary players--Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird--burst on the scene in an NCAA championship that gave birth to modern basketball. The date was March 26, 1979. The place: Salt Lake City.

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