When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
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When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  465 ratings  ·  66 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Times Books (first published February 17th 2009)
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Mahlon
Apr 09, 2010 Mahlon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Basketball Fans
Recommended to Mahlon by: ESPN
Shelves: read-2010

In When March Went Mad, Seth Davis offers a narrative account of the 1979 College Basketball season through the eyes of it's two greatest players, Larry Bird of the Indiana State Sycamores, and Magic Johnson of the Michigan State Spartans, whose teams eventually met in the finals of the NCAA Tournament, with Michigan State winning 75-64. Davis argues that this is the greatest basketball game ever played, both for it's effect on televised college Basketball, and later on the NBA, since both Magic...more
Nicolo Yu
I started following professional basketball when Michael Jordan was transcending the game with his dominating talent. But he only inherited an NBA already defined by the rivalry of two personalities, Magic and Bird. The games of these two superstars where they go head to head, especially in the NBA Finals are legendary. This started when they both were college basketball stars, in the 1979 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.

The book details the events that lead to the 1979 Final Four and th...more
Mike Van Campen
This book succeeds and fails at the same time. First, Davis does an exceptional job of recreating the 1979 NCAA Championship game and the build up to that game. The reader really gets a feel for the players and coaches of the two seemingly unlikely teams: the Michigan State University Spartans and the Indiana State University Sycamores. Further, he does an excellent job of highlighting the superstars from that season and that game: Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. As someone whose familiar...more
Jamie
The 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship was arguably the most important event in college basketball history. Its success spurred the growth of ESPN and excited sports fans all over the country (1/4 of the nation's televisions were tuned to the final game). But more than anything, this is a story of two men who captured the nation with their incredible play and became the new face of basketball. Before they were millionaires in the NBA, Magic and Bird were college rivals, with completely different...more
Rob Warner
I tell people that this game was the first game I ever watched on TV, and as far as I can remember, I'm not lying. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana when this game was played, and was a staunch Larry Bird fan (and continue to root for the Celtics to this day). The rivalry that this game birthed gave hoops fans a decade of basketball bliss.

I didn't learn much more about Bird or Magic from this book, but what little I learned was worth the read. The bigger win was learning more about Heathcote, Hodg...more
Rama
Principles of Marketing NCAA Basketball

This book is not so much about the two legends of NCAA Basketball, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but it is about the way NCAA basketball turned into big time sports. March Madness, Bracket games, Sweet Sixteen, Final Four, and NCAA championship games may be competitive sports for many schools and its fans across the nation, but it is also a lucrative money making machine for television and media. Bracket-games betting during March have become a major tradit...more
Eli
Since this 1978-79 season took place before the advent of extensive TV coverage of NCAA basketball, it was fun reading the "backstory" for the championship matchup everyone remembers. The championship game itself was sort of anticlimactic. Definitely worth a read for college BB fans.
Stacey
I enjoyed this book and definitely thought it was appropriate to read at this time of year. Since I grew up in Terre Haute and was born right before the 78-79 season, so I had heard some of what was in the book, but still thought it was interesting.
Jake
One of the best basketball books out there. A small Indiana school led by the Hick from French Lick goes up against a Big Ten powerhouse in the NCAA Finals. Compulsively readable. Or readably compulsive.
Lexi
Really interesting read. It's rare to find a sports book that deals with such a familiar topic and yet provides so much new information. (Or at least new for me.)
Mark
When March Went Mad:
The game that transformed basketball
By Seth Davis

Publisher: Times Books
Published In: New York , New York
Date: 2009
Pgs: 323

Summary:
The story of the rise of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird, their early basketball experiences and the people who influenced them, and the dream season when they reinvigorated college basketball and gave all of us a vision of what the NBA might someday look like. This follows the Michigan State Spartans through their 25-6 season and juxtapose...more
Jacob
When March Went Mad by Seth Davis is a compelling story of two basketball players Erving "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird who transformed the game of college basketball. College basketball wasn't nearly the same sport back in the late 70's as it is today. Bird a huge talent out of French Lick, Indiana became the leader of the Indiana State Sycamores from day one. On the other side was Erving "Magic" Johnson who had a winners mentality and his play for the Michigan State Spartans showed that he was...more
Tom Gase
This was an interesting read about the 1979 NCAA basketball championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State. More importantly, it was the first time Earvin "Magic" Johnson of the Spartans went up against Larry Bird of the Sycamores. The two great players would go head-to-head many times in the NBA, and in a way, they also saved that league. But if that's what you want to read about, I suggest you pick up the new Jackie McMullen book, When the Game was Ours. This book focuses primarily...more
Bruce
Feb 15, 2010 Bruce rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: basketball fans, sports journalism readers
This is a short 4-star book that drops to 3 stars if you bother to read much past about page 250 or so. Davis treats novelistically the 1979 NCAA championship game between Magic Johnson's/Greg Kelser's Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores taking readers through each team's entire season, playing up major and minor competition, characters, and side-stories. It's sort of a book version of "Hoosiers," really terrific stuff, heavy on back-and-forth action in make-or-break...more
Bap
In 1979 Indiana State with Larry Bird met Michigan State and magic Johnson in a game that caught the imagination of the country and started what has become March Madness. Bird was shy and unsophisticaed. Magic was outgoing and ready for prime time. Both were great players and the rivalry of 1979 would be carried into the pros. The 1979 tournament included Penn which beat UNC to get into the final four coached by Bob Weinhauer who was my high school coach. I remember him slamming me into the blea...more
Andrew
Davis is not much of a writer. I'm not sure what qualifies him to be an in-studio analyst, other than he wears a suit well. There's some interesting stuff to be told about the games Magic and Bird played in before their historic (and sadly underwhelming) run-in in the NCAA tournament, as well as a sociological/technological analysis of TV Sports culture, but Davis misses out because he's too busy constructing an extremely simple narrative.

It's very clear his influence is John Feinstein, whose TH...more
J.C.
Bird and Magic... You Can't Go Wrong

It might just be impossible to have a book with two better characters: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Two of the greatest, if not the two greatest basketball players of all time. This book does a truly remarkable job of chronicling the 1979 season of the Indiana State Sycamores and the Michigan State Spartans. A lot of attention is paid to the teams, the coaches, the teammates, and the communities that were directly (and sometimes indirectly) affected by their...more
Timmy Rattanaphone
Seth Davis' purpose in writing his book, "When March Went Mad", is to inform the audience about how this very basketball game in 1979 transformed all of basketball forever. He wants to make sure that the reader understands that college basketball is the multibillion-dollar sport it is today because of this game. Before this game, there were not many college basketball games that were televised like they are today. This championship game transformed the once glanced over NCAA tournament into a mu...more
Justin Kerekes
Jan 23, 2013 Justin Kerekes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Basketball Fans
Recommended to Justin by: Goodreads
Seth Davis' purpose in writing his book, "When March Went Mad", is to inform the audience about how this very basketball game in 1979 transformed all of basketball forever. He wants to make sure that the reader understands that college basketball is the multibillion-dollar sport it is today because of this game. Before this game, there were not many college basketball games that were televised like they are today. This championship game transformed the once glanced over NCAA tournament into a m...more
Robert James
Great book to read during the NCAA Tournament. I remember this game very well. I watched it at my high school basketball coach's house along with several teammates. We knew this was going to be a huge game and we couldn't wait for it. Unfortunately the game didn't live up to the hype. The book does a great job of setting up the game and replaying it's turning points. It was a disappointing game for Bird but the stage was set up for what would come next as Bird and Magic battled in the NBA.
John
If you enjoy college basketball and wonder why March Madness is such a huge event, then this book will provide a bit of context. It is the story of the famous match-up between Magic Johnson's (and the high-flying Greg Kelser's) Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores in the 1979 NCAA basketball championship. The game still has the highest television rating in NCAA basketball history. There are some good reasons for this and Seth Davis explains them well.

As a long-time fa...more
Tim
Davis argues the 1979 NCAA championship game ushered in a new era in college and professional basketball in the United States. Before the era of 24/7 cable sports coverage, before wall-to-wall internet coverage the final game was watched by more people who had ever watched a basketball game before and since.

The author employs a pretty typical journalistic style to tell this story. Chapters or sections of chapters alternate back and forth between the lives of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the su...more
Ang
Nov 12, 2010 Ang added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
So good! I was eagerly anticipating this book, and so to get an ARC of it was really fantastic. I don't know that much about NCAA basketball, but I do enjoy reading about basketball, and I love when basketball books are accessible enough that someone who only knows the basics can understand them. I'd say this fits the bill. [return][return]I watched a lot of basketball as a youngster (growing up in Chicago in the Jordan era mandated that), so I watched Bird and Johnson, and knew about their NBA...more
Jon
Mar 14, 2014 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sports
A great trip down memory lane! Loved the intimate look at Bird and Magic as their college careers were brought together in 1979, but more importantly their teammates and coaches. Seth Davis does a great job of uncovering insights, especially how those involved were impacted AFTER the game.
David
This is one of the very best sports books that I've read. Davis does a masterful job of weaving the story of the 1979 NCAA championship in men's basketball with the changes that it prompted in television sports coverage, college basketball, and the NBA. Along the way, the reader gets the requisite inside stories on Magic and Bird and their respective backgrounds. To his credit, though, Davis goes beyond that to connect the personalities, backgrounds, and stories of nearly everyone associated wit...more
Kevin
a very good sports book that chronicled the 1979 NCAA season for the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores as they eventually met in the final game that was the most watched basketball game ever. Seth Davis did a great job of paralleling the stories of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as they played toward the collision point of this final game. With great research and cooperation from former players, coaches and other people associated with this time Davis really gets you on the i...more
David Barney
A wonderful historical look at the '79 season and championship game of Indiana State and Michigan State.
Kevin Duvall
Davis does a good job of covering both players' lives and the scale of their accomplishments.
Jason
A very insightful book with great interviews from Indiana State and Michigan. While the author didn't dive too deep into the two main characters, I was able to relive and appreciate the talents of Bird and Magic.
Sherrie
Sep 21, 2009 Sherrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sports fans, especially NCAA or NBA
Recommended to Sherrie by: a review
For me personally, this book is a 5 star, and anyone who knows me will understand. I read it in one day. Davis did a great job of re-creating the season itself, especially the two main protagonists. Where he fell short was in his analysis of exactly why this game was what changed college basketball forever--you got the feeling he'd reached his maximum number of pages and just wanted to wrap things up quickly. I could live with that, but other people, not so familiar with that era, will be left p...more
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