Basketball has long been a staple of Hollywood films and television. The sport is full of so much inherent drama that it lends itself extremely well to narrative art -- just stick on a love interest and some kind of emotional arc and you've found a hit. Think "Hoosiers," "Coach Carter," "One Tree Hill," or "Hang Time." Someone even tried to make Shakespeare's "Othello" into a basketball story.
For the most part, though, basketball doesn't fare very well in the theater, mostly because the stage doesn't allow for the five-man artistry of the game unless you're performing in the round. Nevertheless, Broadway will tackle the NBA soon with a new play about two of its greatest stars. From Chris Jones on ChicagoTribune.com (and first seen on Howard Beck's Twitter):
The Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Eric Simonson appears to have found a viable new niche: plays about sports figures.
Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, the producers of Simonson's "Lombardi," currently telling the story of Vince Lombardi on Broadway, announced Thursday that they will produce a new play called "Magic/Bird," a piece telling the "intertwined life stories" of the basketball greats Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Just as "Lombardi" was produced with the help of National Football League, "Magic/Bird" will have the backing of the National Basketball Association. Bird and Johnson will also participate in Simonson's new project, scheduled to debut on Broadway in 2012.
There are as yet no details on what form the play will take, but the particulars of "Lombardi" provide some suggestions. That play doesn't attempt to explain the man's entire life; instead, it focuses on just a week during the 1965 season. While Bird and Magic have a long history with each other, it's possible that "Magic/Bird" will only cover a brief period in their lives together like, say, one of their NBA Finals matchups or their experience on the 1992 Dream Team. Any of those choices would be seen so long as they don't deal with both men's careers as front-office executives.
When news broke, suggestions flooded Twitter on who should play the roles, with ideas ranging from Michael Rapaport for Bird to Derek Luke for Magic. We want to hear your ideas, so drop a comment on who you'd cast and which moments in time like you hope to see in the play.
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- Larry Bird
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