Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Recommendation: When March went Mad


As I mentioned briefly in a prior post, I recently finished reading When March Went Mad, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It is written by Seth Davis of SI.com and CBS fame, and takes a look at the 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship between Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans and Larry Bird and the undefeated Indiana State Sycamores - still the highest rated NCAA Basketball Championship game ever.

Davis doesn't just cover the game, however, or just the two main stars. He goes into great detail covering just about every game the two teams played during the season. He chronicles the ups and downs, last second wins, and tough losses (well, not in the Sycamores' case) in detail. He also gets the perspective of anybody and everybody involved in these teams' dream seasons. From secondary stars on the teams, to the head and assistant coaches, to fans, to the last man on the bench. There is no angle left uncovered here.

The depth of his storytelling is also impressive. We learn not only about how good Larry Bird was, but also about his sometimes inappropriate sense of humor, and his painful desire to stay out of the spotlight, so much so that after leaving Indiana he worked on a garbage truck and had no interest in going to any college, including Indiana State. It was his grandmother who invited the ISU coaches into her kitchen to talk to Larry and helped convince him to go - who knows what would have happened without her. And this is just one example of the behind the scenes stories Davis uncovered for this book.

When March Went Mad really covers it all. From the recruitment of Bird and Magic to their respective colleges, to the years leading up to '78-'79, to the magical season itself, their first meeting (and Bird's brush off of Magic's handshake), to the championship game itself and ending with a nice "where are they now" style roundup of many of the people we meet throughout the book, it's truly a thorough look at the game and people who launched college basketball from afterthought to main event.

If you enjoy Feinstein's college basketball books, this is in a similar vein (although Davis does a better job of keeping himself out of the story), and I highly recommend it to any college basketball fan, or really any basketball fan at all.

9 comments:

Larry Legend said...

I'd rather play soggy cracker. Basketball is for homos.

Anonymous said...

When does the movie come out. Reading is for loser!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to tell people at gopherhole that Stephan Curry is overrated....they refuse to believe me.

snacks said...

anonymous - I like your style. Sure Curry's an exciting and talented player, but I'm not sure what it is about him that makes people completely ignore things like shooting percentages and turnovers.

WWWWWW said...

Anonymous - aka Son of a Badger - I have posted. I'm almost hoping they disagree with me.

Anonymous said...

Yea thanks for the support, and they already have...

Chuck said...

John owned WWWWWWW over on the other site. Eat it WWWWW. John and Curry rule!

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