Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When the Game Was Ours” as Want to Read:
When the Game Was Ours
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When the Game Was Ours

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  9,661 Ratings  ·  369 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. Ea ...more
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published November 4th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
Jan 26, 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
Jan 12, 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
Theta Sigma
Apr 24, 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
Rosenkavalier
Apr 27, 2011 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
Anthony Francalancia
Sep 24, 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 10, 2015 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
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
Samantha
Oct 22, 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
Kevin
Apr 22, 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
Gus Sanchez
Nov 24, 2009 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
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
Andrea
Mar 26, 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
Dave
Mar 01, 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 22, 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
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
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
Amir Mustafa
Sep 11, 2015 Amir Mustafa rated it really liked it
I rated the book 4 stars because it only talked about the Lakers and Celtics. This book was written by a Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird. It described his legacy in the NBA and all the stars he played against. I recommend anyone who likes basketball and it's history to read this autobiography because it is very interesting. I enjoyed this book even more because I grew up watching the Celtics and learning about a Celtic great is fun.
Tim
Jun 07, 2012 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.
Manuel Albaladejo
Dec 17, 2016 Manuel Albaladejo rated it really liked it
An account of two of the greatest to ever play the game. The truly inspiring lives of two fierce competitors that shared values, self-discipline and a killer instinct. They had so much in common that hatred turned into friendship. There has never been a pair like this ever since. I grew up watching them play and felt in love with the game. But this book is beyond basketball. It is about what it takes to succeed in life through struggle and setbacks.
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.
Raido Tamar
Feb 10, 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.
Jamez
Dec 08, 2016 Jamez rated it did not like it
bruhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
William Johnson
This review was reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity. Please check out the site and comment on this review and others.

When I first started reading When the Game Was Ours, by Earvin Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, I thought it was a bit silly. The Haiti earthquakes just happened and I kind of felt a ‘blood and guts’ story of hardwood glory was a bit excessive. And the fact that I was reading it in the comfort of my intact house with readily available drinking water made me feel even worse fo
...more
Dwain
Jun 27, 2012 Dwain rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, sports
I've been a basketball fan since 92, the 92-93 season to be exact. Up to this point, baseball was the sport of choice. One sunny saturday in Brooklyn, NY I turned on the TV; it was the NBA on NBC and Charles Barkley and his Phoenix Suns were mopping the court with some unfortunate bunch. I got sucked in. Later on I found the NY Knicks and was hooked from there on.

This book by Jackie MacMullan chronicles the NBA before my conversion.

One thing I learned, even before reading this book, was that m
...more
Richard
Feb 02, 2017 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly captivating

Really I had only modest expectations when I purchased this book as one of the Kindle daily deals. I've read many sports books on topics that are forced. Bird and Magic together? I really had no idea that they were so close. I learned through this book that their bond is legitimate and that made for a great book. The author was excellent and kept the story going. If you are like me and remember the NCAA championship battle between the two and the ensuing NBA finals meeti
...more
Amaan M
Sep 27, 2013 Amaan M rated it it was amazing

Larry Bird Earvin Magic Johnson, When the Game Was Ours, by Jackie Macmullan was an excellent book, and one of my all time favorites. This book is a story about the relationship of two of basketball’s most celebrated players, and how they changed the game. It explains Larry and Magic’s relationship as friends, and rivals. It also explains how the two stars helped stop some of the racism that was going on during their careers. The book is also a great example of how interviews with other people
...more
Lennon
Mar 23, 2017 Lennon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LENNON's BOOK COLLECTION REVIEW: After reading this you'll understand that even if they have very different styles of play, Larry Bird, the old school scholar type Earvin Johnson, glamorous and Show Time conductor, they have a common denominator: They'll do anything to win! both are fierce competitors. A must read for any Celtic and Laker fans. #whenthegamewasours
Patrick
Feb 01, 2010 Patrick rated it it was amazing
I was born in 1982, or one year after Larry Bird won his first championship with the Boston Celtics. To say I was born into a dynasty might be overstating it--my father, while a big basketball fan, was a New England transplant who grew up the college basketball mecca of North Carolina. He was just planting the roots of a Boston sports obsession that would be a major part of my life, and bring the two of us closer together. So even though I wasn't really old enough to remember the glory days of t ...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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
magic and larry 1 2 Mar 18, 2015 08:44PM  
SPSV Mrs. Rodgers...: Dominic Nicolas 1 5 Feb 28, 2012 09:35PM  
  • The Art of a Beautiful Game: The Thinking Fan's Tour of the NBA (Sports Illustrated)
  • The Last Season: A Team In Search of Its Soul
  • The Jordan Rules
  • Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich
  • Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made
  • Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever
  • Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine
  • Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend
  • The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game
  • Shaq Uncut: Tall Tales and Untold Stories
  • FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
  • When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
  • Can I Keep My Jersey?: Eleven Teams, Six Years, Five Countries, and My So-called Career as a Professional Basketball Player
  • Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association
  • When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan's Last Comeback
  • The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed  Basketball Forever
  • They Call Me Coach

Share This Book



“when you think you have done enough, do a little more, because someone out there is working harder than you.” 0 likes
“In the late seventies and early eighties, the home NBA team was required to provide the road team with a case of cold beer in the locker room after each game.” 0 likes
More quotes…