Magic and Bird. Bird and Magic. Nintendo video games. A Broadway play. Somewhere between 50-70,000 books. Some documentaries. T-shirts. Jokes. Laughter. A tacit understanding that we never mention how funny it is that one of these guys is named after a flying animal and the other is named after wizardry. Years of friendship. Years of rivalry. Mock turtlenecks that are just a little too tight in the chestal region.
If you’ve followed basketball for more than 15 minutes, you know all about the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry. It’s lasted since the dawn of time and will be talked about forever, or at least until humans find a new, post-vocalization way of communicating, which will then serve as our conduit for stories about these guys.
But somehow, the crustiness of this old rivalry seems to find new life all the time. Today is no different, as basketball’s most storied antagonists are now going toe-to-toe in statues. From the AP:
Indiana State University is moving ahead with plans for a 15-foot-tall bronze statue honoring basketball great Larry Bird for his playing days with the Sycamores.
A statue has been discussed for several years, but officials now expect to dedicate it in the fall of 2013 at the school’s Hulman Center arena, the Tribune-Star reported Tuesday.
Sculptor Bill Wolfe said he wants to make sure Bird’s statue is taller than those of Magic Johnson, whose Michigan State team beat Bird’s Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA championship game.
“I don’t have anything against Magic,” Wolfe said.
“Larry is just better,” Wolfe then said in unison with Jack Fox, director of development for the Indiana State University Foundation.
This is great. Even though these guys haven’t played in decades, it’s good to know that people still care enough to pit them against each other. That is a very weird and touching tribute.
But a fine tribute, I’d say. If Bill Wolfe succeeds in building his 15-foot tall statue (fingies crossed), it’ll easily pass the 12-foot Magic statue at Michigan State. No big deal, I guess, that Magic’s Spartans beat Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores in the national title game, I guess. We’re talking statues now, not something stupid like basketball. So congratulations to Indiana State on that.
However, 15 feet is still a little short of the 17-footer that the Lakers had erected back in 2004. That’s the
gold bronze standard of Magic Johnson statues, so I don’t understand why that’s not the target. I’m sure it has something to do with college vs. college pride, but then all the Magic fans can just say, “Cool statue, but Magic not only has more statues, he actually has one that’s still taller than this one you guys built to be taller than Magic’s. You lose.”
Why not make a 20-foot Larry Bird statue that will terrify children for years to come? Not only would the Sycamores win the statue arms race, they’d also be creating a gigantic landing spot for avian creatures of all shapes and sizes, and that’s just poetic.