In this exclusive excerpt from “Basketball: A Love Story,” the icons who changed the game share the first moment the game changed them.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson (three-time NBA MVP): I fell in love with basketball watching games with my dad in the living room. I was 3 or 4 years old. Him cheering for the Philadelphia 76ers — Wilt Chamberlain was his favorite player. I would go out and practice Wilt’s ugly finger roll and try to be the Big Dipper, and ever since that moment, I just had to have a ball in my hand.
LeBron James (four-time NBA MVP): When I was 4, 5 years old, I started playing on a crate. We cut the bottom out, nailed it to the light pole, me and my friends. No backboard, so every shot had to go straight in, or you didn’t make it. And I remember that joy — playing on the street, cars interrupting our game, the ball going into the woods. Playing basketball, it did something to me.
Kobe Bryant (2008 NBA MVP): I have a basketball family — my father played in the NBA, my uncle played in the NBA, my grandma played — and so when I picked the ball up, I was instantly attracted, almost like I was born to play.
Kevin Durant (2014 NBA MVP): My mom took me to a rec center. I walked into the gym, and it was like the gates of heaven opened up.
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