On March 26, 1979, basketball as we know it was born. The NCAA championship game played that day launched an epic rivalry between two exceptional players: Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. Though they played each other only once as college athletes, that game transformed the NCAA tournament into a multibillion-dollar enterprise and laid the foundation for the resurgence of the NBA. To this day it remains the highest-rated basketball game, college or pro, in the history of television.
In the national bestseller When March Went Mad, Seth Davis recounts the dramatic story of the season leading up to that game, as Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans and Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores overcame long odds and great doubts to reach the game’s grandest stage. Davis also tells the stories of their remarkable coaches, Jud Heathcote and Bill Hodges, and he shows how tensions over race and class heightened the drama of the competition.
Davis combed through several years’ worth of newspaper and magazine coverage, interviewed nearly one hundred people, and watched dozens of games to reconstruct the colorful, historic, and improbable narrative of how Larry Bird and Magic Johnson burst on the scene—a coming-of-age story that continues to resonate. The Final Four, the NBA, and the game of basketball have never been the same.