Bird and Magic. Magic and Bird.
Their names are forever linked largely because of many memorable battles during their days in the NBA. But that rivalry has its roots in college basketball.
Thirty years ago this month, Larry Bird of Indiana State and Earvin “Magic” Johnson of Michigan State embarked on a path through the NCAA tournament that would take them to the championship game of the Final Four, a showdown that remains the highest rated televised college basketball game.
USA TODAY asked former staffers Malcolm Moran and David DuPree, both of whom covered the event, to share their memories. For Moran, then at The New York Times, this was the first of 26 Final Fours he would cover. DuPree, then at The Washington Post, subsequently began covering the National Basketball Association, where he observed first hand the Bird-Magic mystique many more times.