Larry Bird and Magic?
Yes, during Tuesday night's Celtics home game against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, Celtics forward Paul Pierce drained a three-point FG to become the #2 scorer in franchise history, surpassing Bird and now trailing John Havlicek.
Yesterday, it was a full-page, double truck feature in the popular "Inside Track" of the Boston Herald, featuring an in-depth look at the steps being taken by producers Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser to stage the Broadway play about the great rivalry, then gradual bonding friendship between Magic/Bird.
Here is Associated Press pro basketball writer Brian Mahoney's take on the upcoming show, complete with Johnson's view:
(Note: For Group Sales information or fan packages originating in New England, please contact Terry Lyons Sports Marketing by email: tl (at) terrylyons (dot) com)
NEW YORK (AP) - Showtime is about to have a whole new meaning for MagicJohnson.The story of the NBA Hall of Famer's rivalry and friendship with Larry Birdis coming to Broadway in "Magic/Bird,'' set to open in April. The twoconsulted in its production, and Johnson can't wait to watch their story told.His "Showtime'' Lakers of the 1980s were a Hollywood hit, and now he'sready to see his name in Broadway's lights."I guess it's the real Showtime,'' Johnson said in a phone interview. "Whenyou think about Broadway and you think about Larry and I being on Broadway,it's definitely at its highest level and I don't think either one of usthought that we would be on Broadway. If we was, we'd be there seeing aplay and not a play about our lives.''It's the second in a planned series of sports-themed plays from producersTony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser, the team behind "Lombardi.'' Kirmser saideven before that show's success, they wanted to tell the story of Johnsonand Bird, who started as rivals in college and finished as Olympicteammates and longtime friends."They played at such a high competitive level and there was equally a highlevel of respect between the two of them,'' Kirmser said. "That is notsomething that we see all the time now and we thought it would be excitingto take a look and relive the rivalry live on stage and important to take alook at this relationship between the two of them.''They reached out initially to Johnson, who first brought his wife, Cookie,to see "Lombardi'' before committing. Then it was on to Bird, who, justlike with the Dream Team 20 years earlier, wanted to first know thatJohnson was on board."That's normally how it usually works with us,'' Johnson said.Friendships between rivals is nothing new in today's NBA, where playersseem just as eager to team up with a foe than beat him. But the fact thatJohnson and Bird became friends was surprising even to them.Their rivalry started when Johnson's Michigan State team knocked off Bird'sIndiana State squad for the 1979 NCAA championship. Bird, the reservedwhite guy from Indiana, would then end up in Boston, while Johnson,outgoing, black and made for the big city, went to the Lakers, who hadnever beaten the Celtics in the NBA finals.They met for the championship three times as pros, with the Lakers winningtwice. But along the way, what started as hatred had softened, to the pointthat Bird said he lost some of his drive once Johnson retired for the firsttime in 1991 after contracting the HIV virus."Larry learned that Magic was also Earvin, so it wasn't all showbiz, andMagic probably learned that Larry had a sense of humor and personalitybehind that sort of tough exterior as well,'' Ponturo said of theirfriendship. "Something that's lasted 30 years in this kind of environmentis a story worth telling.''Johnson and Bird met with the writers and the actors portraying them. Birdwanted assurances the play would be true to his life and found it to beaccurate - though Tug Coker, the actor who portrays him, has dark hair.But Kirmser said Coker, who has appeared on TV in shows such as "How I MetYour Mother'' and "The Office,'' has the same facial intensity as Bird. Shesaid both he and Kevin Daniels, who plays Johnson, play basketball and"really capture the essence of these two individuals.''"They pick up a basketball and you believe it,'' Kirmser said. "And that,for the theater goer, even the theater goer who doesn't know much aboutbasketball, and certainly for the sports fan, is so important because bothrequire authenticity.''Daniels met with Johnson on Monday, asking him about Johnson'scompetitiveness, his preparation, and of course how his relationship withBird evolved."I told him the story about where I had to shoot the Converse commercial atLarry's house, which I wasn't too happy about,'' Johnson said, adding thatDaniels has the right look because he shares Johnson's "magical smile.''The NBA provided historical footage that appears throughout the 90-minuteshow, which Kirmser said covers "draft to Dream Team.''The duo helped turn the NBA into one of America's most popular sports, andinterest in them was reignited after the 2010 HBO documentary "Magic &Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.'' Seeing their highlights again is a treateven for those who aren't normally into theater."A lot of people do grow up with these two,'' Ponturo said. "You sort ofremember it, but to go back and relive some of these games on the video andthe competition, Fran and I have looked at many, many, many hours of video,and you're reminded of their play and some of the amazing shot making andtalents and everything that they had. So those who go to see the show aregoing to be quickly reminded about how wonderful these two were on thecourt.''Johnson plans to be there when the show opens April 11 at the LongacreTheater, maybe even seated next to Bird. And who could have predicted thatwhen they first met?"Just think about sports. How many guys can be linked to each other andstill be champions, competitors, then walk away being friends?'' Johnsonsaid. "It's hard to find that.''
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