March Madness: It All Started With Larry and Magic
1979 title game made basketball a slam dunk with public, book says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2009 12:16 PM CDT
Larry Bird shoots the ball as Magic Johnson looks on during a game at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif.   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – March wasn't always so mentally unstable. A new book claims the whole college roundball craze started 30 years ago, when Michigan State and Indiana State—and their stars, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird—met in the title game. “You couldn't have asked for a better dynamic between these two central characters,” says Seth Davis, who wrote How March Went Mad and calls their match-up a “catalytic event.”

The personalities of the two stars helped. Bird was shy, while Magic loved the fans and media. "They were just unbelievable basketball players because of the way they could think the game," Davis says. It was the most-watched basketball game of all time. Back then, most households got four channels, and none even carried the NBA finals. The Magic/Bird showdown proved basketball was a draw.