"When The Game Was Ours" by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson with Jackie MacMullan is an engaging jaunt through the careers of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and the National Basketball Association of the 80s and early 90s. These were two of my five favorite players while growing up, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the highlights of their careers and learning more about what was behind the two basketball superstars.
The book chronicles their journeys from the classic college match-up through their seasons with the Lakers and Celtics and the intense rivalry between the players and teams, to the Olympics, Johnson's HIV, both of their coaching and involvement with teams after playing. You learn how similar the two players destined for the hall of fame (and both elected, Bird in 1998 and Johnson in 2002) were, yet equally how different, and how they brought out the best in each other.
While the book is written by both players, it really seems more like a biography by Jackie MacMullan than an autobiography by the two superstars. It is written in third person, as an outsider looking into both of their careers and how they interacted, not as a personal first hand account. This is especially true in the section that discuss other facets of the game, the NBA, and players other than Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. This is not bad, I enjoyed those sections as well, and I think they added to the book. Bird and Johnson did so much to help the NBA, it is only fitting that their story be intertwined with other aspects of the game and personalities.
The parts of the book that were most enjoyable to me were the highlights of the duo's careers. It took me back to those games and it was good to relive them through this book. The downs, the injuries, and hurt feelings that the two suffered shows that no matter what your success, not everything is a bed of roses. The book also highlighted the differences between the NBA of the 80s and early 90s and the NBA of the latter 90s and 2000s. Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but I connect more with Bird and Johnson and the players of their era more than those of today. That's another reason it was nice to relive those moments briefly when reading this book. The final chapters share a little of what the two are doing now, and it was satisfying to know these two basketball heroes of my youth are still doing well. If Bird and Johnson were heroes and you grew up with them and the NBA like I did, you'll enjoy taking a look back at their story.