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Jersey Boys
Alexandra Fenwick
April 09, 2012
Magic/Bird, about the iconic basketball rivals, opens April 11 on Broadway. The show's stars, Kevin Daniels (left, as Magic Johnson) and Tug Coker (as Larry Bird), are each 6' 5"—roughly four inches shorter than their NBA counterparts. But SI wanted to take the measure of the duo in a less literal sense.
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April 09, 2012

Jersey Boys

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Watched old game tapes to study Magic's mannerisms, "like the way he constantly shifts his weight from left to right when standing." PREP WORK Road-tripped to French Lick, Ind., to visit Bird's old high school and to speak to locals.
Sprinted in junior high and won a most improved award. "My mom has that trophy in the garage." SPORTS RÉSUMÉ ... Hoops walk-on at William and Mary, but never played. "As good as those guys were, I knew I should find a new passion. And that was theater."
"I do a behind-the-back pass and a baby hook shot [in the show]. They decided it would be best to put the basket off-stage." ... TO STAGE SKILLS? "I tried to get cute and do a reverse layup the first night of previews, and I missed. Now I just keep it simple."
Wears one wig, covering 1979 through Magic's first NBA title, in '80. Everything after is real. MAKEUP MATTERS Two wigs—Young Larry and Mature Larry—plus one stick-on wispy mustache.
"I immediately got a gym membership [after landing the role]." ON WEARING SHORT SHORTS "I had to get naked for a 2005 play called Take Me Out. My whole family came; my high school English and art teachers, my football coach. Wearing short shorts is a blessing compared to that."
"Wearing that gold Lakers jersey. I have lived in L.A. for 10 years." BIGGEST JOB PERK Says the lifelong Celtics fan, "The fact that Larry Bird even knows I'm alive. He knows I'm an actual human being."
"I'm a lover not a fighter." FAVORITE NON-NBA RIVALRY Roger Federer--Rafael Nadal
"You've got your team. You've got your ensemble. You've got a goal that you have to train and prepare for ..." WHERE THEATER MEETS SPORTS " ... And it's a live event. You've got to be there to pick each other up when a cellphone goes off or someone in the audience has a whooping cough."

Magic/Bird, about the iconic basketball rivals, opens April 11 on Broadway. The show's stars, Kevin Daniels (left, as Magic Johnson) and Tug Coker (as Larry Bird), are each 6' 5"—roughly four inches shorter than their NBA counterparts. But SI wanted to take the measure of the duo in a less literal sense.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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