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When The Game Was Ours by Jackie MacMullan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson

On 12th June 1984 I was on a family holiday in the US. We had spent three weeks travelling around Florida and then up the east coast to finally end up in Boston. During the day we had a guided tour of the city and we were told that it was game seven of the NBA finals that night between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.

I was only thirteen but, possibly as it was the last night of the holiday, managed to persuade my parents that I could stay up and watch the game. My mum and I stayed up late into the night watching Boston beat the Lakers. Despite being in Boston, for some reason I decided to support the Lakers and Magic Johnson became one of my heroes.

This book is all about the two main protagonists of that game. It is brilliantly written and covers their rivalry and eventual friendship. I knew quite a lot about Magic but very little about Larry (he’s meant to be the enemy right?). It highlights how driven they both were and also how they stood so far ahead of their peers. It highlights that a lot of the success of the NBA today is down to them.

The book interweaves their stories incredibly well and really captures the battles they had together. And due to these battles it covers both their highs and their lows. It is a shame both their careers were impacted by health issues - Magic and HIV, and Larry and his back problems.

I came away with a new admiration, not just for Magic, but also for Larry - something I wasn’t expecting. I guess that is a sign of how good this book is.