Conference Championship Picks Below
Straight Up Record 126-74
Against the Spread 108-99
Thirty seven years ago a college basketball game took place that changed the whole landscape of the sport. The NBA was floundering. Games were being shown on tape delay. Arenas were lucky to be half filled. The league almost had to take Jackie Moon and the Flint tropics in the ABA merger. The league was in a bad place.
And then a final Four took place in Salt Lake City Utah. The teams in that final 4 were Penn, DePaul, Indiana State, and Michigan State. It’s amazing when you read those 4 teams that the championship would be one of the most watched college basketball games ever. The reason; Larry Joe Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson.
Bird and Indiana State would advance to the championship game falling short to Magic Johnson and the Spartans. This would be the first of 23 total matchups between the 2 guys that would transform the NBA.
Magic Johnson would become the number 1 pick in the draft taken by the LA Lakers. Larry Bird was drafted in 1978 by the Celtics and minutes before he would have been eligible to be drafted again in the 1979 draft, Bird and the Celtics struck a deal.
These 2 guys would play 13 years in the NBA together. They formed one of the greatest rivalries in sports history. Bird and Magic saved the NBA. They combined for 8 championships in the decade of the 80s. They faced each other 23 times with Magic winning 15 of those matchups.
In the 90s we were graced with Jordan. During his reign, there were plenty of other superstars but no one person who would meet him in as many big games as the Bird/Magic rivalry. Never since has there been a rivalry of that magnitude.
Tiger Woods dominated golf from 1997 through 2010. For years we tried and hoped for back 9 showdowns with Phil Mickelson. We then hoped Sergio Garcia would be that guy. Instead we got Bob May, Rocco Mediate, and YE Yang.
Rivalries between two elite players don’t come along very often. We hope and try to fit 2 square pegs into a round hole trying to capture that Bird/Magic feeling. When they do happen they are special and should be treasured.
Today a rivalry renews in high altitude. On September 30th 2001 Tom Brady led his New England Patriots to a 44-13 win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. At the time, little did we know that these 2 men would take the NFL to greater heights than it had ever been.
Brady holds an 11-5 edge in the series but they have split the playoff meetings at 2-2.
Today they will meet for the 17th time and likely the last. For 15 years these quarterbacks have been at the center of headlines, the center of big wins, and the torch bearers for the league.
The matchup today in Denver may not have the same luster it once did. But we should treasure it. As shown above rivalries like this don’t come around very often.
So it’s Brady/Manning one last time with a trip to the Super Bowl to the victor. Take it in and appreciate what today is and what it has been; this was a round peg in a round hole.
Rivalries like this are like a rare bird but when they do happen it’s magic.
Patriots 24 Broncos 20 Patriots -3
Cardinals 27 Panthers 23 Cardinals +3