HBO Sports honors the 30th anniversary of the historic 1987 NBA Finals, which commemorates the last championship matchup between Earvin “Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, by offering the Peabody Award-winning documentary MAGIC & BIRD: A COURTSHIP OF RIVALS across all platforms (HBO GO®, HBO NOW, HBO On-Demand®,and affiliate portals) throughout the entire 2017 NBA Playoffs. The acclaimed 2010 HBO Sports documentary chronicled the fierce rivalry between basketball legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
The special will air Tuesday, May 30 at 4:10 p.m. and Thursday, June 1 at 11:15 p.m. on HBO. It can also be seen on Sunday, May 28 at 1:30 p.m. and Friday, June 2 at 6:00 p.m. on the HBO2 service. All times are ET/PT.
A year after its HBO premiere, MAGIC & BIRD: A COURTSHIP OF RIVALS -- produced by Academy-Award® winner Ezra Edelman -- was honored with a prestigious George F. Peabody Award for production excellence.
The special traces the history of the competition between Los Angeles Lakers legend “Magic” Johnson and Boston Celtics all-time great Larry Bird, which began when they led their midwest universities to the 1979 NCAA Championship game, through a decade of dominance, when the two won three NBA MVP awards apiece and a combined eight NBA titles. The exclusive HBO presentation also examines the different cultures that helped shape them and contributed to their unique styles, as well as exploring their unlikely friendship.
Though sharing midwestern roots and following the same team-oriented philosophy, the introverted Bird (from the small town of French Lick, Ind.) and the extroverted Johnson (from the industrial state capital of Lansing, Mich.) couldn’t be more different in personality. The two superstars talk about each other at length in the film and provide intimate insights into their remarkable lives.
The special’s high-profile list of interviewees also includes: Hall of Famer Pat Riley, who coached Johnson on the great Lakers teams of the 1980s; teammates Kevin McHale, Cedric Maxwell and Michael Cooper; George Fox, Johnson’s high school coach; siblings Evelyn Johnson and Mark Bird; entertainer Arsenio Hall; former CBS Sports executive Ted Shaker; and sports journalists Bryant Gumbel, Jackie MacMullan, Charles Pierce and Steve Springer.
The film is narrated by Liev Schreiber.
The documentary received critical acclaim when it debuted in 2010. The Washington Post lauded that, “HBO has delivered yet another memorable documentary in a long line of stunning sports productions,” calling the documentary, “must-see, magical TV.” Newsday called MAGIC & BIRD a “slam dunk” and a “real eye-opener,” while the Ventura County Star called it the “best” film featuring Bird and Johnson. Broadcasting and Cable wrote that the documentary is “a fantastic 90-minute experience.”
Highlights from MAGIC & BIRD: A COURTSHIP OF RIVALS:
Broadcaster Bryant Gumbel: “One of my pet peeves always is when people say, ‘Oh, Michael Jordan saved the NBA.’ Bulls**t. ‘Magic’ and Larry saved the NBA.”
Larry Bird: “They talk about it every day somewhere. If I go to a foreign country, it’s ‘ “Magic”, where’s “Magic?” ’ It’s the same everywhere…We got this connection that’s never gonna be broken. I mean, right to our graves. They’ll be talking about this a hundred years from now.”
Larry Bird: “I’d get up in the mornings and see what he did, ‘cause their games came on late. Then you look at the box score. I had to have him there for some reason. Like a crutch. Somebody I can compare myself to.”
“Magic” Johnson: “I hated what was being said that Larry was better than me and that, you know, I’m just a guy who can control the game. My first four or five years that bothered me a lot. I didn’t tell nobody that it bothered me, but it did.”
“Magic” Johnson: “He’s very private, but if he’s your friend, you got a friend for life. And Larry Bird is a straight shooter. He’ll tell you when he don’t like you. That’s one thing I wish I could have that he has that I don’t have.”
Larry Bird: “I mean, if he walked in here, this whole room would change. And maybe that’s what I always wanted to be, but I just couldn’t.”