Other than videos of Kate Upton dancing in a bikini, it’s hard to think of anything more worthwhile to watch than this.
That’s Larry Bird and Magic Johnson guesting together on Letterman. The sound you hear is of me grinning ear to ear. And below are my thoughts in bullet points:
– I made a review of ‘When The Game Was Ours’ two years ago here. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, proven by the fact I still remember key points in it, particularly the situations mentioned by Letterman ie., the time they were teammates on a National Team where both were benched, the 1979 Championship game between Indiana and Michigan where Magic’s Spartans won, the time Magic went to Larry’s house at Indiana to film a Converse commercial and where they first got to know each other, Magic’s HIV announcement and of course their stellar, individual NBA careers. I’ve read a lot of basketball books and forgotten quite a number of them, but this one I remember clearly.
– I’m a big fan of all three guys on that screen, yes including David Letterman. His show’s been on for 30 years and you don’t get to that level especially in the harsh New York environment by not bringing in ‘game’ every night, and yes its a daily show to boot. I’ve long decided I like him better than Leno, because while Leno is a great comic, Letterman is a far better host plus that.Having said that, I’ve never seen Letterman anxious until this episode. I may have missed a few times when he was, but I’ve seen him interview Heads of State and thousands of celebrities with nary a hitch. With this interview, he was constantly looking at his cards to keep on track, following his script to the letter to get all his questions in. What really gave it away was when he was segueing into talking about Magic’s HIV announcement 20 years ago, which introduced a serious color to the interview. I think he actually stammered into that one. These things are of course, talked and agreed upon way beforehand, so that was a surprise.
– Larry’s admission that Magic was a better player is amazing on many levels. First of course, is that it’s even possible to compare the two, considering they played different positions. Second of course is the fact that he’s man enough to admit so, especially considering he seems to be the ‘meaner’ of the two. Magic was of course also quite gracious but also said what made more sense, in that Larry was a better forward, and he was the better guard. That makes way more sense.I would admit Magic’s superiority however towards late in their careers. Magic had to retire at his prime due to HIV, then tried to make a comeback where he proved he was still capable after being forced more or less to quit again. In other words, he was made to quit kicking and screaming in protest because he still had game. Larry when he quit however was totally done. He didn’t even want to play on the Dream Team due to nagging back injuries, which spells doom for any player especially in those days. When Larry decided to quit he embraced it while Magic was chomping at the bit to play again. When he coached the Lakers for a brief spell he even wrote of how he and his assistant coaches would regularly whip their Lakers team led by Nick Van Excel.
– Magic smiles and laughs a lot, and I think that’s because that’s also an excited reaction, and the fact that he has a great big wide smile and infectious laugh helps. I’m saying this because some people might find his constant laughing out loud to be annoying and maybe out of place, but I’ve the convenience of having met people who are exactly like that so I know a little bit what I’m talking about. Bird was saying how Magic liked to ‘pal around and high five everyone’, which exactly describes people I know who do that in order to loosen themselves up when they’re nervous.
– Larry on the other hand cannot be anymore different if he tried, and this served their rivalry even more. The greatest thing about their rivalry and even more so their great friendship is that the two are polar opposites in almost every way. What’s on everyone’s minds is that they are friends despite their great differences, because anyone else would be at each others’ throats for a variety of reasons, primarily race. Racial tension, quite tragically, continues to define a lot of America to this day, and even more so after their educational system seems to have failed them. The fact these two appear onscreen as pals has a wide effect on a lot of people in that country, ranging from outright hate to hope.
– What I finally take away from all this however, is akin to Letterman’s ‘how to be guys’ analogy. Larry and Magic is a true, honest to goodness explanation of what COMPETITION is all about. Many times its very difficult to distinguish between hate and competition. In fact the times when the NBA was going crazy with fights left and right were situations wherein players were trying to ape the competitive spirit these two had but unfortunately they were substituting it for outright hate. The two explain over and over again that they saw two versions of each other, one the human and the other the basketball player, and while they hate the basketball player they sincerely love and respect the human. While it is ok to hate the basketball player, its important to maintain a sense of decency and still respect each other on a human level.
– Kids will not find it easy to understand that, especially if they are in a competition and all they hear are taunts and insults. Respecting each other, even if their coaches insist on it, will be the farthest thing from their minds. These two however should help them get a grasp of what that’s about.
The two were guesting on the show to promote a play about them on Broadway, which obviously hired them for publicity. Nevertheless seeing them together again and appearing on my favorite talk show is just a thrill, just an absolute great, fantastic thrill for me without a doubt.
After all that you’ll need a break however, so here’s Kate Upton dancing.