“A must-read for anybody who considers themselves a basketball fan.”—Michael Wilbon, The Washington Post
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.
On Sunday evening, March 25, 1979, the NBC Sports production team gathered in a conference room at the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City to go over the game plan for the following night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game. George Finkel, the game producer, spoke first. He laid out the manner in which he and his broadcasting team of Dick Enberg, Al McGuire, and Billy Packer would be presenting the contest between Michigan State and Indiana State.
The next person to speak was Don McGuire (no relation to Al), who produced the pregame, halftime, and postgame segments
"There are no secrets anymore in sport. Good grief, the best eighth-grade basketball players in the country are ranked. With his careful telling of the romantic saga of Magic and Bird, Seth Davis reminds us what fun it used to be when we could still be surprised, when a whole sport could be turned upside down, right before our wondering eyes. It's a delight to relive all that with When March Went Mad."—Frank Deford
“I can’t remember a behind-the-scenes story I have enjoyed more. A transcendent moment in sports that is so fully captured by Seth Davis -- I feel as if I was right in the middle of it all! Thanks, Seth, for the insight as to how this magical game is still a standalone event even thirty years later.”—Jim Nantz
"There is a lot more to what is known as ‘the Magic vs. Larry game’ than meets the eye. In When March Went Mad, Seth Davis does a superb job of shining a spotlight on many of those long-forgotten details."—John Feinstein
"Seth Davis’s When March Went Mad evokes more than a special season. Through deft reporting, he takes you behind the scenes from Terre Haute, Indiana, to East Lansing, Michigan, and on to the famous championship round in Salt Lake City. Best of all, though, Davis captures Larry Bird and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson as the young basketball genuises they were, basketball’s yin and yang, equal but opposing forces who would transform the game. This is a fine piece of work."—Mark Kriegel
"There are only a few perfect combinations in the world. Peanut butter on toast, scotch on ice, and Seth Davis on basketball."—Rick Reilly