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Former rivals Bird, Magic combine as co-authors

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Associated Press
November 4, 2009

Larry Bird doesn’t understand what all the fuss was about. So what if LeBron James didn’t shake hands with the Orlando Magic after his Cleveland Cavaliers lost in the Eastern Conference finals?


“When basketball is over you live the rest of your life, and you’ll have plenty of time for that,” Bird said of players being friends with their opponents.


His greatest rival — and now one of his best friends—agreed.


“We never shook each others’ hands,” Magic Johnson said.


The two Hall of Famers have now written a book together. “When the Game Was Ours,” written with Jackie MacMullan, is due out today.


They said they were tired of others writing about what the two were supposedly thinking during their many showdowns.


“What better way to do it than to do it together?” Johnson said earlier this week. “We’ve been through so many great moments ...


“I think it’s a unique situation that two guys who were all about winning and all about playing the game the right way —who had a chance to change the game at the time and take the game to another level—are able to write a book together.”


They said they talk only a few times a year, but when they do, they could talk for hours.


The two first bonded while shooting a Converse commercial together in Bird’s hometown of French Lick, Ind. They learned how much they had in common — two Midwestern kids from strong families of modest means.


Not that the encounter softened their rivalry.


“I disliked the guy,” Johnson said. “I hated the guy — because I knew he could beat me.”



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