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When the Game Was Ours

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,256 Ratings  ·  322 Reviews
From the moment these two players took the court on opposing sides, they engaged in a fierce physical and psychological battle. Their uncommonly competitive relationship came to symbolize the most compelling rivalry in the NBA. These were the basketball epics of the 1980s — Celtics vs Lakers, East vs West, physical vs finesse, Old School vs Showtime, even white vs black. E ...more
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published November 4th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2009)
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The Book of Basketball by Bill SimmonsThe Breaks of the Game by David HalberstamA Season on the Brink by John FeinsteinWhen the Game Was Ours by Larry BirdThe Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
Tales from the Hardwood
4th out of 117 books — 97 voters
Showtime by Jeff PearlmanThe Book of Basketball by Bill SimmonsWhen March Went Mad by Seth DavisDream Team by Jack McCallumWhen the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird
Fixes for Basketball Junkies
5th out of 49 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mickey
Jul 25, 2010 Mickey rated it liked it
Reading this book really took me back to my college days. I was a freshman at Indiana University the year Bird and Johnson faced each other in the NCAA finals, and had been an IU basketball fan for years. I remember seeing Larry Bird on the IU campus for some kind of sports dinner just before he started his freshman year there, and I always wondered what the story was behind his departure before the season started. The unofficial word around campus was that the campus was just "too big" for a sm ...more
TJ
Feb 07, 2015 TJ rated it really liked it
This is a well-researched look at the two NBA icons who practically saved the league in the 1980's - Larry Bird, the self-professed "Hick from French Lick" and the effervescent play maker from Lansing, Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Author Jackie MacMullen lets Bird and Magic tell the story with very little other than their first person voice present.

The story begins shortly before the dramatic 1979 NCAA final between Bird's undefeated Indiana State team and Magic's Big Ten champion, Michigan State Sp
...more
Ian
Apr 02, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
This was a great read - Jackie McMullen clearly had plenty of access and was able to tell the story with lots of illuminating input from people who were around the action. It was fascinating to find out more about one of the greatest rivalries in sports and to hear in the players' own words how the competition drove each of them to be better. Excellent storytelling, and I was pleased that the story wasn't weighted towards one side or the other; it really was the story of the two of them, not jus ...more
Kevin
May 07, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing
When the Game Was Ours is a very good novel/read which gives us an in depth look into the legendary rivalry of two basketball greats Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The book spans from the moment the two first met at the NCAA championship game, to their pro days, and even their post playing days. The two started out as fierce rivals and ultimately wound up becoming the best of friends. Throughout it all they always respected each other and used what the other did as motivation in order to perfect ...more
Stefan Goles
Jun 06, 2014 Stefan Goles rated it it was amazing
This book describes the rivalry between the Los Angelos Lakers and the Boston Celtics during the 1980's, and more specifically the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The book describes how both players got to the NBA, and then speaks on how dominant they were and how they always played agains each other in the NBA finals, which sparked their rivalry. The book also describes their relationship off of the court and how they became very good friends of off the court. I would reccomend th ...more
Anthony Francalancia
Dec 22, 2015 Anthony Francalancia rated it it was amazing
Have you ever known a person that you had been best friends with yet competing with your whole life? In the book When the Game Was Ours by basketball legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, their relationship both on and off the court and the differences between them created an exciting and competitive basketball environment. As the two fight for championships and maximizing fame, they were symbols of their time, where they differentiated in race, demographics, and style of play.
The story begins w
...more
Jay
Feb 02, 2016 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, basketball
During most of the Larry Bird and Magic Johnson era I was in college and most interested in the college game. I knew that Bird and Magic were NBA royalty before Jordan showed up, but not much more about them. I recently attended a presentation by Magic Johnson for my job, where the focus of his talk was his work with companies in underserved areas. He comes across as very smart, or at least smart enough to hire very smart people for his companies. He has created millions of dollars in value in p ...more
Rosenkavalier
Jun 25, 2014 Rosenkavalier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport
PAAAANDEMONIO AL GREAT WESTERN FORUM!!!

Se per voi la parola "pandemonio" può essere pronunciata solo con l'accento di Chattanooga, Tennessee, leggete questo libro.

Se avete passato le domeniche mattina guardando "Il grande golf con Mario Camicia" per non rischiare di perdere l'inizio della partita, leggete questo libro.

Se, quelle stesse domeniche mattina, alla fine della partita correvate all'oratorio nonostante fosse ora di pranzo per provare la vostra versione (oratoriale) del Junior Junior Sk
...more
Samantha
Oct 28, 2009 Samantha rated it really liked it
Very good book that tells both sides of pivotial events in Magic Johnson and Larry Bird's careers. It starts out when both are in high school and then moves to college when they first started hearing about the other. I loved the stories about their teammates and what they were thinking about their rivalry then later their friendship. Their interactions with Jordan during the Olympic Dream Team period was funny. I really enjoyed the inside thoughts from Larry Bird concerning Magic revealing that ...more
Theta Sigma
May 31, 2012 Theta Sigma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been an armchair basketball fan, predominantly in the late eighties up to the mid-to-late nineties whenever I was able to watch it, there were three players that fascinated me - Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

This book is a fascinating biography written by Bird and Johnson alongside Jackie MacMullan, sports journalist and regular contributor to the ESPN programme "Around The Horn".

It follows Larry and Magic's parallel careers from their first meeting in the World Invitationa
...more
Will Gustafson
Oct 10, 2012 Will Gustafson rated it it was amazing
"When the Game was Ours" was composed by a collaboration of authors including Larry Bird, Earvin (Magic) Johnson, and Jackie MacMullan. Their purpose for creating this masterfully written biography was to bring Bird and Johnson's fascinatingly intertwined lives as basketball players to the public's eyes. It starts out by describing their dominant high school and college careers. Then it goes on into their intense and heated rivalries as pros, along with their journey to Barcelona to play in the ...more
Gus Sanchez
Feb 05, 2010 Gus Sanchez rated it really liked it
This book, an oral history of the game Bird and Magic shared together, in their own words, is a fascinating look down memory lane, when Bird and Magic reinvigorated the NBA and sowed the seeds for its' tremendous global growth. We get a look not just at their rivalry but their unexpected friendship.

Growing up, as an aspiring baller, Magic and Larry were the 2 basketball players I emulated; I wanted Magic's no-look pass and Larry's long-range bombing, along with their uncanny court sense, the ab
...more
Shawn
Aug 11, 2015 Shawn rated it really liked it
Unlike a lot of biographies that spend way too much time introducing the main character as well as getting overly involved in secondary characters and sub-plots, this one gets it just right.
A very good read on the two men that defined the NBA of the 80s, their relationship, and how they helped the sport soar to new heights.
AJ
Mar 14, 2012 AJ rated it really liked it
this book is about magic johnson and Larry bird and their friendship on and off the court. on the court they were rivals but off the court they were the best of friends my favorite character has to be magic johnson even though Larry Bird is a very good player Magic was a point guard and i play point guard. Magic johnson is the best point guard to ever play the game of basketball he could do anything, his passing was the best of all. my favorite part of the book is when they talk about how they p ...more
Dave
Mar 15, 2010 Dave rated it it was amazing
Granted the NBA isnt that popular in Kansas. As a sports fan we are the poorer for it. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Magic Johnson/LArry Bird rivalry. The last 1/3 of the book was new ground for me.
Reading how their relationship grew from a heated rivalry to a grudging respect, into a close friendship between the 2 men who epitomized basketball from the late 70's as college rivals thru the 80's as the two best players of the decade. I enjoyed the parts of the book that
...more
Craig
Oct 24, 2012 Craig rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. An excellent insider look at two of the best NBA players ever. Larry Bird has always been one of my favorites and Magic was too when he played. I have read two other books about Bird, and this one was an excellent compliment to those two books. What made this book unique compared to the others about these two great players, or any other sports biography I have read, is that is focused on the rivalry and relationship of Magic and Bird. This is one of the better sports ...more
Andrea
Apr 25, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
I savored every page of this book! I will confess that I'm an avid Celtics fan, so that probably has colored my opinion to an extent. However, I've read other sports memoirs about people or teams that I support, and I fear that the standard for sports memoirs may be low -- perhaps publishers feel that the books will sell to the fans no matter how casual the attention to writing or editing. "When the Game Was Ours" should provide a template for excellence for future sports writing.

I have deeper
...more
Zach
Sep 29, 2014 Zach rated it it was amazing
This book was unbelievable. It really described a time when the NBA was just amazing to watch because of these two men. They were two of the greatest players in the NBA and they made each other better because they wanted to beat each other for the championship. This was a time when the game was played the right way. And this book just captures the time and the people so well. I don't think there will ever be another time like that in the NBA again. If you are nostalgic for the best times of the ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
Before the game was Michaels . . .
. . . would be a fitting title for this book. Jordan's arrival and ascent a few years after Bird and Magic turned this one-on-one rivalry into a triangular tug of war for coverage, creativity, and competition. While the winning was measured in championships, the rings seemed secondary to the extremely competitive nature of these three great players.

Bird and Magic (with professional help) write a fitting sequel to When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Ba
...more
Melvin Floyd
May 27, 2015 Melvin Floyd rated it it was amazing
When The Game Was Ours Essay

It was a rivalry made in basketball heaven. Their NCAA championship game changed college basketball and made March Madness a national obsession. Then they dominated their teams and their sport in the 1980s, on teams that fought year after year for the NBA championship. And, to this day, even in retirement, it's still Bird and Magic. And, their story is told their way in When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullan.


This book is
...more
Tim
Sep 24, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing
A must read for all basketball fans and historians. There has never been a rivalry like Magic and Bird's in this era. It is one that has crossed over from college and continued to the end of their NBA careers. Though one was cut sooner than later. You learn about the lives of two of the best superstars to ever play the game and what it was like in the 80s. How one person can push you because you want to be the best. Even if you're not a true basketball fan, it's a great story.
Jabril Lawson
Nov 19, 2015 Jabril Lawson rated it it was amazing
1.The genre of this book is nonfiction because it has real people,events,and facts.The topic of this book "When The Game Was Ours" is about Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson playing basketball starting from highschool to college to the pros.The main idea of this story is that Magic and Larry both had great basketball successful careers.Both won championships on the court.The main idea is that the rivarlry between these two hall of famers changed the NBA.The rivalry started in college when John ...more
Carlos Salcedo vila
Jan 16, 2016 Carlos Salcedo vila rated it really liked it
La historia que cualquier aficionado a la NBA conoce, contada mejor que nunca por sus protagonistas con la ayuda de Jackie MacMullan. Un libro emocionante e inspirador, ya que se centra en la rivalidad que estos dos gigantes del baloncesto mantuvieron en la época dorada de este deporte.

La narración de los veranos de cada jugador, supuestamente de vacaciones tras una larga temporada de baloncesto es espectacular. Cómo ambos, separados por miles de kilómetros, mantienen al otro en sus mentes en t
...more
David
Apr 23, 2014 David rated it really liked it
When the Game Was Ours is a very enjoyable read which has duel chronicles of both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson from their young playing days, college, pros, and post careers. The two went from fierce rivals to friends over the course of their careers but through it all, they always respected the other and used what the other did as motivation.

My only critique of the book was a minor one by the author late in the book. The author mentions that Magic and Michael Jackson found themselves at the sam
...more
Sean Moriarty
Dec 17, 2015 Sean Moriarty rated it it was amazing
By Sean Moriarty
Tittle: When The Game Was Ours
Author: Jackie MacMullan

This book is about two NBA legends, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The novel talks about how good Larry and Magic were and there life outside of the game of basketball. It also explains how intense their rivalry was on the court and how they became very close friends. When The Game Was Ours is a very good book about two of the NBA's greatest players of all time and it teaches you a lot of life lessons. The most important part
...more
Lisa
Jun 08, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A terrific read! I don't follow any sports, except for sports-related movies (because then you get all of the exciting action packed into two hours.) I had heard of Magic Johnson when I was in school but only due to his HIV-positive diagnosis. I knew of Larry Bird but only due to his "Nothin' But Net" McDonalds commercials with Michael Jordan. You see where I'm going here?

As a reader who knows nothing about basketball, I loved this book! It begins with the on-court rivalry during college basket
...more
Kameron Spencer
Feb 28, 2014 Kameron Spencer rated it it was amazing
Dave SheininBy Dave Sheinin
Sunday, December 13, 2009
WHEN THE GAME WAS OURS
By Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson, with Jackie MacMullan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

For sports fans who came of age in the 1980s, nothing in the known universe was as important as Bird vs. Magic. In a debate -- "Who's better, Bird or Magic?" -- you would have staked your life on your answer. When you played hoops alone and fantasized about the final seconds ticking down, you were either one or the other. And when Lar
...more
Michael Tarpinian
Except for the Jordan Years, I have never been a big NBA fan. I was in high school when Bird and Magic were playing in College, so I should have a connection with them. But, I don't.

So I came to basketball in the stands watching grade school girls. Had I watech these guys when I was younger, I would have seen that the Lady Bobcats playing a similar, ball handling/passing/defense game as Larry and Earvin.

So, I feel like I missed something special. I would have a deeper appreciation for the game
...more
Raido Tamar
Apr 05, 2015 Raido Tamar rated it it was amazing
After watching HBO television documentary "Magic Johnson and Larry Bird: A Courtship of Rivals Basketball", I thought that there can't be nothing better about Larry and Magic but oh boy was I wrong. Simply "When the Game Was Ours" is the single greatest book I have ever read about sports and I'm not even a Lakers or Celtics fan.
Ethan S
Jan 15, 2016 Ethan S rated it it was amazing
When The Game Was Ours
Jackie MacMullen, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson
This book features two Long time NBA rivals and friends, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. The two tell stories from long and successful careers. Larry and Magic combined for 8 championships in the heart of their career's in the 80's. Both Larry and Magic had been stars their whole lives which makes the games classic, when they meet up in the NBA finals. This book is entertaining when the two players share stories from the seasons abo
...more
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magic and larry 1 2 Mar 18, 2015 08:44PM  
SPSV Mrs. Rodgers...: Dominic Nicolas 1 5 Feb 28, 2012 09:35PM  
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