1979. For Sonics fans, that means one thing: The Championship Year. For the rest of the basketball world, however, it also marks the beginning of the Bird/Magic era.
In the new book When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, author Seth Davis takes a look at the game that put basketball on the map: the 1979 NCAA championship match-up between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores.
The book starts out with a group of TV execs arguing about how to cover the big game. After some angry words, they finally agree to focus almost exclusively on the two stars of the game, Michigan State's Magic Johnson and Indiana State's Larry Bird. Unprecedented at the time, this kind of "superstar" promotion was soon picked up by the NBA (something David Stern is always quick to take credit for) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Davis does a great job of not only delving into the behind-the scenes shenanigans, but also taking a closer look at Bird and Magic during an era when few of us knew them.
In the book, Davis also mentions how in 1979 no one was paying attention to basketball, and even the NBA Finals were shown on tape-delay. Yes, the Sonics' only championship was relegated to the late-night realm of infomercials. Sigh.
Despite this depressing history lesson, When March Went Mad is a terrific book and highly recommended for hoop nerds of all ages.