Magic Johnson, Larry Bird Relationship to Become Subject of Broadway Play

A play about the relationship between basketball Hall of Fame members Magic Johnson and Larry Bird is being created for Broadway.

“Magic/Bird” is being developed by the producers and writer of the current Broadway show “Lombardi,” and is scheduled to debut in 2012, according to a news release.

The two National Basketball Association All-Stars, whose rivalry eventually became a close relationship, battled each other throughout their careers. Johnson’s Michigan State University topped Bird’s Indiana State in the 1979 college basketball championship game and the two met in the NBA Finals three times in four years, with Bird’s Boston Celtics claiming the championship in 1984 and Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers taking the title in 1985 and 1987.

Bird was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, four years before Johnson. Both played 13 seasons in the NBA, with Johnson missing 1991-95 after disclosing that he had contracted HIV. He returned for 32 games in 1996.

The play “chronicles the intertwined life stories” of the two men, according to the release. It is being produced by Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo and written by Eric Simonson, who held the same roles in the making of “Lombardi.”

“Lombardi,” a one-act drama that opened in 2010 about the life of Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, is the only new play from the first half of the 2010-11 Broadway season that’s still running.

With the National Football League also credited as a “Lombardi” producer, it was staged with an investment of just over $3 million. Ponturo and Kirmser met on the producing team of the 2009 revival of the musical “Hair.” “Magic/Bird” is being produced in association with the NBA as well as Johnson, 51, and Bird, 54.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net; Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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