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Tip-Off Timer: If It's '79, It's Got to Be Bird-Magic

Aug 9, 2009 – 10:00 AM
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Matt Steinmetz

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Tip-Off Timer counts down the days until the first game of the 2009-10 season. On Sunday, there are exactly 79 days remaining.

If you're a hoops fan, 1979 is an easy one: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

That was the year most of us were introduced to the future of the NBA, although we didn't know it at the time. The 1979 NCAA championship game between Indiana State and Michigan State was only the Bird-Magic appetizer.

Bird and Magic would play in the NBA Finals against each other three times as pros. Together, they rejuvenated pro basketball and help bring back credibility, class and competition to a league that desperately needed it.

Bird and Magic also brought unprecedented exposure to the NBA in the 1980s, kind of a tip-off, if you will, to the league's global marketing strategy and world-wide commercialism we see today.

The very real rivalry between Bird and Magic -- and the Celtics and Lakers -- fueled interest in the NBA. It wasn't until the two did a television commercial for Converse's "Weapon" line in 1986 that their relationship began to thaw.

Both men acknowledge that it was during the taping of this commercial they first began to forge a friendship born out of Midwestern roots. So what if it's just this side of corny; it's still a classic.

Filed under: Sports