(Four and 1/2 Stars)
HBO Sports is well known for top-notch documentaries, but its latest project, Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,
is a true slam dunk.
The documentary effectively chronicles one of basketball's
most competitive and unique rivalries through traditional video clips
interspersed with interviews from family members, former teammates and
What makes this a standout are the personal reflections from
the two hall of famers of their years as competitors, from their storied
college rivalry through their championship battles in the National Basketball
Association and, ultimately, their unmistakable friendship in later years.
Note the openness of the notoriously reticent Bird in
discussing his relationship with Magic -- at times adversarial, at times
compassionate -- especially during Johnson's 1991 announcement that he had
contracted the HIV virus.
Johnson's discussion of that difficult time -- and his
emotional reaction to a phone conversation with Bird about his impending public
announcement and retirement -- is a very poignant and unforgettable point in
Real Sports host
Bryant Gumbel rightfully credits Magic and Bird as saving and reviving the NBA
during the 1980s. Magic & Bird: A
Courtship of Rivals nicely documents the great on and off-the-court
contributions that both men have made to the sport. It's a must see for
hard-core basketball fans and a great watch for casual viewers as well.