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John S. Battle,
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As a basketball fan and knowing that HBO does an excellent job with documentaries, I had high expectations for this, and it certainly didn't disappoint.
Born in 1981, I never fully appreciated the rivalry as it was happening, but this certainly put it in perspective. It covers every intricacy of both the rivalry and the two men as individuals. After viewing it I'm not sure that there is any story in the history of sports that's as unique and special as Bird and Magic.
It started in 1979 with the NCAA championship and continued on to the NBA for several years.
On one hand you have Bird, the introverted type-A personality from Indiana; on the other you have Magic, the happy-go-lucky extrovert. The two men couldn't be more different personality-wise. So naturally in the early stages of the rivalry they had every reason to dislike each other. Yet as things progressed and as they found out more about each other, the relationship softened. For all their differences, they were eerily similar on the court and because of that there was a deep-rooted respect. Things really started to change when they got together to shoot a commercial for Converse at Bird's home in Indiana. And when Magic first announced he had HIV, Bird was one of the first people to reach out to him. It's obvious how much that meant to Magic.
I believe that every professional athlete can learn so much from both of these guys. The respect they have for the game and for each other represents the greatness of sports. It's really what it's all about and this documentary captures it like nothing else I've ever seen. Brilliantly done.
I also found it amazing how much pain Bird was in during the latter stages of his career. Yet he kept toughing it out game after game, season after season. You'd be hard pressed to find any one who'd do that in today's game.
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