Sunday, June 01, 2008

Magic vs. Bird: A Breakdown

The much-anticipated NBA Finals begin in Boston this Thursday. The host Celtics have been led all season by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, while the visiting Los Angeles Lakers feature their own “Big Three” in MVP Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom.

Stars were also abundant when these franchises squared off in the 1984, 1985, and 1987 finals. Those series featured stalwarts like Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Kevin McHale, James Worthy, and Robert Parish. However, revisionist history pretty much boils down those showdowns as “Magic vs. Bird.” Earvin and Larry have long since retired and secured their places in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Still, I’m using a “Magic vs. Bird” analysis to forecast this series. Here’s a breakdown.

NBA Teams: The Magic won their first-round series, but the Birds (Hawks) did not. Advantage: Magic

Burgess Meredith: He starred in a 1978 film entitled Magic. But he’s identified with birds – as The Penguin as well as Mickey, who screamed at Rocky to chase after a chicken. Advantage: Bird

Kids’ Birthday Parties: Performing magic is acceptable. Flipping the bird is not. Advantage: Magic

Weed-Smoking Songs: Puff, the Magic Dragon fits the bill, but millions of stoners shout for FREE BIRD!!!!! Advantage: Bird

First Ladies: We’ve had Lady Bird Johnson, but no presidential wives named Magic. Don’t try to sell me on Eleanor Magic Roosevelt – I’m not falling for that again. Advantage: Bird

Cheesy Pick-Up Lines: “I’ve got a Larry Bird” makes way less sense than “I’ve got a Magic Johnson.” Advantage: Magic

Aussie Icons: Mel Gibson starred in Bird on a Wire, but Olivia Newton-John hit #1 with Magic. And she never went on a drunken anti-Semitic rant in Malibu. As far as I know. Advantage: Magic

Flight Prowess: A magic carpet and a bird can both fly. But when was the last time you actually saw a magic carpet in the sky? We’re past the weed-smoking topic now. Advantage: Bird

Children’s TV: The Magic School Bus was popular, but there’s no way you can go against Big Bird. Advantage: Bird

Black: Blackbird is a soothing Beatles song that won’t hurt anyone. But black magic can do some serious damage. I mean, did you see Sabrina, the Teenage Witch? Advantage: Magic

18th Century Austrian Composers: Haydn wrote The Bird quartet, but The Magic Flute is a Mozart staple. Yes, as in all NBA Finals previews, I had to work in the obligatory classical music discussion. Advantage: Magic

1984 Pop Songs: The Cars and Morris Day and the Time had hits with Magic and The Bird, respectively. As good as The Cars were, do they ever get you out on the dance floor? Advantage: Bird

Charlies: It’s Magic, Charlie Brown was a relatively obscure Peanuts special. Charlie “Bird” Parker was a jazz legend. And Lucy would never pull the football away from him. Advantage: Bird

Radio Stations: There’s a Magic 106.7 in Boston, but no Bird 106.7 in L.A. Advantage: Magic

Toys: You can play with lots of cool birds. But can they predict the future like a Magic 8-Ball? I think not. Advantage: Magic

Tallying up the results, it’s Magic 8 and Bird 7. So a celebration in downtown L.A. is on the way. Too bad Mark Madsen won’t be around to dance.