There are some moments that change our lives forever.
In 1984, I watched the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers on television, and I realized that this was the game I wanted to play, and the merit was primarily in the confrontation between two giant champions, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. which, for the first time, saw them face each other directly for title conquest among professionals.
Almost 40 years have passed since then and although I have seen many other champions play on parquet, For me the pinnacle of challenge in ball in wedges remains his: Bird Against Magic.
Great rivalries between teams, or better still between two champions, are the salt of every competition and a godsend not only for journalists, but for us fans as well.
It was thanks to USA Basketball that I got introduced to the NFL world; American sports programs were broadcast on television, so while waiting to see highlights of NBA games, I started watching clips of American football, which I found fascinating because of its significant tactical component, and have fallen in love with it ever since. Went .
The 2017 draft gave me the player that for all intents and purposes I was looking for Heir to Magic Johnson: Patrick Mahomes, But the extraordinary thing was that he was not an NBA player but an NFL player. I know it may sound like a bold comparison, but anyone who has admired him on the pitch knows what I’m talking about.
I had to wait almost a year to see him play, but since he became a starter, every game was an opportunity to see some of his magic: the left pass, the no-looker, the jumper, the side arm sling, etc. ,
Every time you wonder how he did it, what happened, where the ball went and you wait for the replays to amaze you even more with the reputation numbers that come out of the wizard’s hands, just like the hands of a basketball The passing was numbered 32 with a yellow-purple jacket.
Mahomes earned his first ring in 2019 with his win in Super Bowl LIV, but, although the NFL was filled with formidable quarterbacks like Brady, Rodgers, etc…, no young man at the same position has ever been able to do so. Didn’t realize. Compete with his talent. Even if I didn’t know it yet, I didn’t have to wait long to see my hopes of seeing him pitted against an equally phenomenal young QB: the No. 1 pick, in the 2020 draft. The Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrows, a boy from Ohio, whom he immediately showed charisma and a winning mentality.
Here’s my Larry Bird!
Although Burrows arrived in the pros after 3 years as the Chiefs quarterback, he is only a year younger than Mahomes, but has the mindset of a veteran, loves to work hard, pays attention to details and above all elevates his all-around game. Manages teammates, just like Bird did with the Celtics of the ’80s.
When the deciding ball was in the hands of number 33 in the green-white jersey, you knew he would find a way to win the game, you didn’t know which, but he would do it, not necessarily with the basket, Maybe with an assist or a steal, but he certainly would have had a hand in the deciding game.
It’s the same feeling we Bengals fans have when it comes to the fourth quarter of a game that’s in balance: Burrow will invent something to bring home the win, but above all else he’ll make it as natural and easy as possible. Will make
How many hours have I spent on the basketball court trying to redo Larry Bird’s stuff; They seemed very simple on television, but when you had to repeat them, you realized their extreme difficulty; For example, he delivered an impact to the ball, pressed to the ground nearby, that changed direction as soon as it touched the parquet and ended up squarely in his partner’s hands. And you just can’t do that, especially Not with its naturalness.
Larry Bird has been my reference in my basketball career. Magic Johnson did things that seemed unapologetic and was sometimes too subtle in itself for my liking; Michael Jordan later performed moves that could not be replicated by anyone who did not have his athletic ability and therefore did not even try; That big white guy from Indiana embodied the type of basketball I loved, ostensibly essential and simple, but actually unique and very tough, in which mental toughness and basketball intelligence were the essence of the game.
Over the years, American football has gained more and more of a place in my heart, enough to follow it relentlessly, but only in brief moments has it given me those highs, thanks to my support for an unfortunate franchise like the Bengals. The excitement is all about basketball and also the lack of rivalry which completely won me over. Certainly Super Bowl XIX with Dan Marino – the Joe Montana conflict, the most important dichotomy of that game remained in my head, but I still didn’t have enough awareness of the game to experience it fully, Aside from the slight difficulty in finding information in Italy in this regard, NBA basketball is definitely an easier undertaking with.
Since 2020 I finally get the rivalry I’ve been waiting for in the NFL too: Joe Burrows vs Patrick Mahomes, two completely different players in style but equally effectiveTwo young champions whom I respect and admire.
The four challenges he has contested so far have all ended by only 3 points and the record for now says 3 wins for Burrows and 1 win for Mahomes, each including a championship. The only certainty is that whoever wants to win the AFC crown knows they will have to deal with him.
Just as the NBA eagerly awaits the two games between the Magic and the Birds each year, hoping to see them in the Finals at the end of the year, the NFL can enjoy the good fortune of having Mahomes and Burro in the same conference. . And be able to schedule your matches in the regular season, almost annually, on the most in-demand dates to maximize ratings. This year that match will take place on December 31 and for us Europeans it will be an opportunity to celebrate the end of the year not with the classic fireworks, but with the trajectory drawn by their illustrious route, hoping that they will still surprise us May we delight in their brilliance as well, as such healthy rivalry can only endear the game even more, giving us epic memories that will be indelibly etched in our memory.