Advanced Screening: HBO's Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals

Joe GillCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2010

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  Larry Bird (L) and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson walk on the court to be honored for the 30th anniversary of their match up in 1979 NCAA Championship Game between Indiana State and Michigan State prior to the Michigan State Spartans playing against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When I checked my email on February 9th , I saw an email from the Comcast Triple Rewards program.

I didn’t think much of it.

I figured must be another coupon for a pay per view movie.

Wow, was I wrong!

The message read, “Thank you for being a valued customer. HBO, The Boston Celtics, and Comcast cordially invite you and a guest to join Celtics Captain, Paul Pierce to celebrate the premiere of the HBO Sports documentary, Magic & Bird: A Courtship Of Rivals.”

The event was going to be held at the TD Garden on February 22, 2010.

This had to be by the far the best perk I received from any customer appreciation program.

I worked for Comcast (got laid off) and I am currently a customer. Of course, they have not always made me feel all warm and fuzzy with technical issues and mysterious charges.

However, this invitation to attend an advance screening of documentary about one of my favorite all-time athletes, Larry Bird, will make me a little more patient and understanding (I hope) when my bill is incorrect next time.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

I recently read, When The Game Was Ours , written by Magic, Larry, and Jackie MacMullan and I could not put it down.

It was probably a land speed record for reading a book for me. When I get caught up in a book, wild horses can’t drag me away.

The book was an incredible read and gave insight on the two players that saved the NBA in the 1980’s.

So to say I was excited to see this book to come to life in a HBO documentary was the understatement of the year.

I called my best friend, who was a huge Bird fan and a border line turncoat (he used to own a Lakers hat when we were younger), if he wanted to go. He said, “Wow you are turning out to be a guy with a lot of connections.”

Connections are good; hopefully one of them will turn into a job.

But I digress.

I let my buddy borrow the book as well and he cut right through it like a buzz saw and now his brother in law is living the Bird-Magic rivalry in written form.

Of course the day of the event, my friend threw out his back and couldn’t attend. He was not happy and has a black cloud following him when it comes to events and concerts.

If something could go wrong for him it usually does.

I called on another Bird fan, who answered the call.

After a great meal and a few beers at the Boston Beer works, we made our way to TD Garden just feet from where the original Garden stood.

The hallowed arena where Magic and Bird battled in numerous big games.

We were amongst about 500 people decked in their Celtics green for this special event.

Celtics star, Paul Pierce and owner, Wyc Grousbeck spoke to the crowd and introduced the film.

The lights dimmed and the TD Garden was eerily silent as the championship banners of ’81, ’84, and ’86 hung overhead.

HBO Sports combined incredible classic imagery with actor, Liev Schreiber’s distinct narration to tell the stories of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Joe Bird.

Two men forever linked in not just basketball history but in the history of sport.

This production touched every emotion in the human repertoire.

You laughed. You cried. You cheered.

To see this film amongst the Celtics faithful was an experience in its own. You took this journey through Larry and Magic lives with them. It was like entering a Green and Gold time machine with 500 of your closest friends. You found yourself back in ’79 during the NCAA championship.

You were transported into the uncomfortable seats in a steamy Garden during the ’84 NBA Finals.

The “Beat L.A.”chants engulfed your ear drums.

You thought the Garden was going to rise from the depths of Boston.

Magic and Bird: A Court Ship of Rivals is a must see film. You don’t have to be a Celtics or a Lakers fan; you don’t even need to be a basketball fan.

You just need to be a fan of humanity.

This tale of hardwood gladiators which were fierce competitors on the court but forged a friendship off it will touch you.

The story of two men from two different worlds who found similarities in one another will make you laugh and cry.

And I did my fair share of both.

To say this film was moving wouldn’t do it justice.

Check out Joe’s site: Boston Sports Then And Now


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.