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When the Game Was Ours
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When the Game Was Ours

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  11,586 ratings  ·  438 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. ...more
Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Published November 4th 2009 by Mariner Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  11,586 ratings  ·  438 reviews

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Wow. I didn't want this book to end, because that would mean Magic and Larry weren't playing any more. Which is silly, since they haven't played in years.

I wish I had paid more attention to basketball while these two were playing. I had no idea of their significance to the game. Their leadership and rivalry remains unmatched today.
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Barnabas Piper
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bird and Magic were NBA saviors just before my time, and this book, expertly written, helped me appreciate both more as players and for their role in the league. It jumped around a bit here and there, but moved quickly and was always engaging.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man, what a book. What a show NBA games depicted back in the day. I think this book captured some of the magic that nowadays you don't see everyday; legends battling it out on the basketball courts from East Coast to the West Coast for the championship. Great details from the author, Larry Bird in showing how the players dealt with internal pressures of trying to live up to the hype and dealing with the corporate machines and sponsors. Trash talking taken to a new heights among players. Great ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John A Raju
Despite not being a keen follower of basketball, I had heard of Magic Johnson. I had never heard of his counterpart Larry Bird until a friend showed me a YouTube documentary on him. That kindled a wide eyed search for something that I could delve into a bit deeper and that's when I came across this book, which had inputs from the legends themselves and evokes a nostalgia for a time that you were not even a part of. Turns out Magic and Bird were widely and deservedly credited for the revival of ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I listened to this book on Kindle (at 2x speed). An excellent sports book about how Bird and Johnson, and their rivalry, revitalized the NBA. I thought the best part of the book was recounting the early years through their retirement. The book fills in the rest of the story, such as Johnson's various comebacks and the 1992 dream team, which didn't quite have the charge of the rest of the book.

Its a sports book. The author (Jackie McMullin, NOT Bird and Johnson) does a good job of recreating the
David Quinn
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun, fast-paced return to the Bird/Magic NBA of the 80's. MacMullen touches all of the areas you'd expect and never stays on a subject beyond the amount necessary. (To suggest the book was written by Larry and Magic with an assist from Jackie MacMullen is absurd.) It reads a bit YA but it's a sports book so that's fine, maybe even its strength.

Magic is pretty fully drawn but his Lakers teammates come across flat. As a Celtics fan that didn't trouble me in the least. Bird's former
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basketball aficionado my age (or older) must have heard of a couple of stories about Larry and Magic. Only by reading this book do we realize however, just how large each man loomed in the other's mind during their playing days.

Problem is, these two greats, two legends, are so well known, the book covers a lot of material that most hoops fans already know. The run-up to their epic 1979 NCAA Championship battle, their ascension to NBA superstardom, their quest for NBA rings, Bird's struggles with
Michael Huntone
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened to this on audio- this was a good companion piece to the other book I'm reading about Jordan. Growing up in the 80s/90s, I was of course aware of Bird & Johnson and their legend status, but the peak of their rivalry happened before I was truly aware of sports- for me basketball was all about Mike. So this was great to get more into the legacy these two legends built and the unique relationship they had with each other and how it evolved through their careers and lives. The audio was ...more
Lucian Dunham
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any fan of the game should read this book. It needed to be written and it needed to be a collaborative work, which it was. It captures so well the heated rivalry, the legendary performances, and the deep respect between the two. It chronicles their earliest days, their near mythical heights, and their days in the front office. It's written without bias or prejudice, just a recounting of one of the greatest eras in basketball history. I loved every second.
Ben Potloff
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book if you love the NBA and want to know what is was like the decade before MJ took over. I never got to watch Magic & Bird but this interesting book gave me a context for all the highlights I’ve seen over the years. Really fun read.
Nonethousand Oberrhein
The odd couple
There was a time when the NBA was not the worldwide renown show that we know today… then Larry and Magic came. This sums up the importance of this “double biography” that goes through twelve essential dates for the two sportsmen (from their first encounter in the ‘78 World Invitational Tournament to Larry’s retirement ceremony in ‘92), picturing the rivalry as it was: a mix of envy, admiration, respect and competition that grew in time into one of the most iconic friendships in
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This book made me Re-evaluate and increase how I feel about the legacy's of Bird and Kareem, but not Magic's. 3.49 ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brennan Kulick
Miss Weilnau
English 3
18 March 2018
IRP #6
Part 1. The book that I read for this Independent Reading Project was Larry Bird & Magic Johnson: When The Game Was Ours. This book is a basketball bibliography of two people, that being Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. This book is about Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s career in basketball starting from their early life through their NBA career and life after the NBA. Throughout this book it alternates from Larry to Magic and lets you see
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed in this book. I don't know what I was expecting, but it didn't deliver for me. I did enjoy the first half which was about how they got their start, and many of the things that went on, but really, by the end of the book I was so sick of reading the phrase, "Magic and Larry" or "Larry and Magic". Really, let's use a modicum of creativity and originality. I started to wonder if the whole thing was made up.

I really liked both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson when they were
Anthony Francalancia
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
Feb 10, 2015 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 ...more
Will Gustafson
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gus Sanchez
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Stefan Goles
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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