Magic Bird Flies

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I’m not much of a sports fanatic. I rarely read the sports section of the paper, couldn’t cite sports stats for the life of me, and always record events so I can fast-forward to the good parts (or at least through the slow parts). But there have been a few major sports stories that have fascinated me: in tennis, Roger Federer’s incredible run at majors, the Agassi-Sampras and Connors-McEnroe rivalries, the Williams sisters’ incredible success. And having lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, I became a dedicated Lakers fan. The peak of my interest in the team occurred in the mid-80s, when Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, surrounded by the Show Time supporting cast, showed the world what fast-break basketball could be. Thanks to the sportscasters, who knew how to play up a good story, I was aware of Magic’s rivalry with Larry Bird, but having never followed college basketball, I didn’t understand the source or the depth of it. Now, having watched HBO’s impressive documentary on the subject, I do. And like every good sports story, it’s quite stirring, even if you’re not a basketball fan. The preview doesn’t really do the show justice-

Here’s a little personal anecdote about Magic Johnson. One day in the late-80s I was walking down a street near Radio City in New York (of all places) when I saw Magic across the street walking in the opposite direction. He must have seen me gawking at him (although I thought I was being cool); he flashed me that huge smile and waved. Now that’s how to treat a fan.