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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Basketball > Sports > Magic & Bird – A Courtship Of Rivals (2010/HBO DVD)

Magic & Bird – A Courtship Of Rivals (2010/HBO DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Documentary: B



It is hard to believe that the NBA was in trouble, but sports franchises can get into trouble and sometimes, they can rebuild.  In the 1980s, the preeminent basketball entity lucked out when they signed a contract with CBS (who saw the potential in them) and had two teams sign two players who save the game: Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.  They became rivals quickly, giving the game a sudden story and one that also suddenly gave it a mythology of some sort.  Ezra Edelman’s Magic & Bird – A Courtship Of Rivals (2010) is a new HBO Documentary about what happened.


Magic went to Los Angeles, absorbing the Hollywood flash and natural sunshine, while Bird landed up in Boston, far away from his small town that was his hometown in Indiana.  They were both talented in a way that made them stand out from the most talented in the business signed across the league and when they started to become competitive, it saved the game and built a new foundation for which (along with its adaptation by the Hip Hop world and with its later stars) the NBA has been sailing into the greatest success of its existence since.


The men are interviewed extensively and they are very revealing, charming and honest, reiterating one of the most important stories in recent sports history and telling us more about it than any rumors or myths ever could.  Even non-basketball fans will be surprised how well made and edited this is, as well as by the quality of vintage footage and stills included.  One of the best sports documentaries since Once In A Lifetime (2006, about soccer in the U.S. reviewed elsewhere on this site), Magic & Bird is a pleasant surprise.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image has new HD shot footage, some stills, a few old film clips and a good dose of analog NTSC video of various quality, well edited, but can only be so consistent throughout.  The NTSC video could be and should be cleaned up down the line.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is also just fine and includes older monophonic audio throughout, but the combination is very watchable just the same.  There are sadly no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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