Jay C. Brandriet
It would surprise most people Utah even has a sports history.
It’s better than they may realize.
The NBA and the Utah Jazz have been making memories in Salt Lake City for decades.
The University of Utah football team falls out of bed, and is ranked in the top 25. They were the original “BCS Buster.”
BYU has a rich tradition of success. Their style of play from decades past, helped evolve the passing game in football.
This state has often hosted NCAA tournament games.
I saw Kevin Durant in his first pro action from five feet away. That’s because a ton of NBA greats played their first summer league action in Utah.
The 2002 Winter Olympics? I’d call that legit.
Utahns are proud.
They often feel like the sports scene here is overlooked.
That’s why it’s odd they rarely mention the elephant in the room.
Maybe it was too long ago.
It was 41 years ago last week.
Salt Lake City, Utah helped give birth to something that elevated basketball to another galaxy.
“Magic vs Bird” took place on the University of Utah campus, March 26th, 1979.
Michigan State vs Indiana State is the most viewed basketball game of all time.
Many say it was the event that gave us the terms “March Madness” and “Cinderella.”
It was a boost to create ESPN a year later.
Len DeLuca was a lawyer and a radio analyst for Boston College’s basketball games. He became a vice president at CBS Sports. Today he’s an adjunct professor at New York University and a consultant for IMG and other companies.
He said the following.
“I think you can rank Michigan State-Indiana State as the most important college basketball game ever. You can say that game was the catalyst for CBS, the NBA, the NCAA, and the creation of star mentality.”
The NBA was struggling before Magic and Bird arrived.
They were basketball geniuses.
They played on polar opposite sides of the country.
There was an unavoidable racial element.
Both men were driven, by each others existence.
Though different, they were the same guy.
Magic and his Lakers vs Larry and his Celtics saved the NBA.
Johnson said the other day, “Larry and I never imagined it would be this big.”
To think it all began in my backyard.
Utah forgets to brag about “Magic vs Bird.”
Jay C. Brandriet