Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals

Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals is a documentary produced by HBO that chronicles the parallel careers of two of basketball's most well-known and beloved stars, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird. From their humble beginnings to NBA championships to retirement, this documentary spans their rivalry, friendship, and relentless will to win.

Release Year: 2010
Rating: not rated, but there is some offensive language
Length: 85m

For more information, view its pages at the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes or purchase it from Amazon.


  • Race: There are many, many examples of race throughout the documentary. Early on, Magic Johnson recalls that he wanted to go to a predominantly black high school, but because of desegregation, ended up at a predominantly white high school. Other NBA players interviewed talk about how many black players were racist against white players because they believed black players were superior, having the mindset of "let's see if he [the white player] can do it against us." Larry Bird was dubbed the "Great White Hope" early in his professional career because basketball was "too black," and the media played up their rivalry as "black versus white," which many fans bought into.
  • Class: Both players had humble beginnings. Magic grew up in Lansing, Michigan, the son of poor working class parents. Bird grew up in rural French Lick, Indiana, also the son of poor working class parents. Both players credit watching their parents work hard with why they developed a strong work ethic.
  • Illness in Sport, Sexuality: Towards the end of the documentary, it focuses on Magic's contraction of HIV. This forced him to retire, but he became an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness. Interviewees discuss how many people questioned Magic's sexual orientation because at the time, HIV/AIDS was seen as a disease heterosexuals did not contract.
  • Injury: Towards the end of the documentary, it also focuses on Bird's playing style and various subsequent injuries, which ultimately caused him to retire. He managed an extreme amount of pain, which was mostly caused by an unstable spine.



1 comment:

  1. Lots of race issues throughout the documentary. Great for a sport sociology course or a general discussion of race in sports.

    ReplyDelete