July 12, 2010

When the Game was Ours

One of the best books written by sports greats is When the Game was Ours by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson, with Jackie MacMullan.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will always be linked as two competitors.  They are linked like Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier and Wilt Chamberlain versus Bill Russell.  They first competed against each other in the NCAA basketball championship, which has the highest ratings of viewers of any game in history.  They then competed against each other in the NBA and in three NBA finals.  One was white and one was black; one from a city and one from the country; one was quiet and shy and one outgoing and loved being around people.  The one thing that they had in common is that neither was a great athlete.  They were considered slow, with poor jumping ability.  They were great because of their work ethic and their deep desire to be great.  They out-worked and out-competed their competition.

They did not like each other at first, yet there was respect.  They each practiced hard, motivated to beat the other.  Then because of a television commercial they became friends.  This book tells about each of their lives, how hard they worked and practiced and how they became friends.

This is a must read for people who want to be successful.  It does help if you have a slight interest in basketball, but it may not be necessary.  This is a compelling story of what it takes to win.  We often think these great stars are born great.  Not the case with most and especially Bird and Magic.  They did it by will and effort.

One of the best quotes from the book, summarizes what I am referring to about why this book is a must read for those who want to know what it takes to be successul: “[Magic] worked tirelessly on his ball-handling and his rebounding with the advice [Coach] Fox gave him imprinted on his mind: when you think you have done enough, do a little more, because someone out there is working harder than you.  Bird was told the same thing by coach Jim Jones.  As he advanced from high school to the college game, he wasn’t sure that “other person” truly existed.  ‘Not until I met Magic,’ Bird said.”