mobile app bar

“Forever Grateful to Be a Part of History”: Magic Johnson Recalled ‘Record-Setting’ NCAA Finals vs Larry Bird in 1979

Advait Jajodia

“Forever Grateful to Be a Part of History”: Magic Johnson Recalled ‘Record-Setting’ NCAA Finals vs Larry Bird in 1979

Magic Johnson has been quite active on X (formerly “Twitter”) throughout the March Madness. Ahead of the NCAA men’s National Championship finals between UConn and Purdue, the Los Angeles Lakers legend reminded basketball enthusiasts of the historic finals that he was part of 45 years ago going up against his nemesis Larry Bird’s team.

Back in 1979, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird led the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores respectively to the finals of the NCAA. Being two of the most hyped college stars at the moment, the entire sporting world wanted to catch the two prodigies battling it out for the championship. Quite overwhelmingly, a total of 35.1 million viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched college basketball game ever.

Apart from shedding light on the record-setting contest that he was a part of, Johnson also expressed his excitement for the UConn-Purdue battle, hoping that the battle between the two programs would be an “electric end to March Madness”.

“The course of college basketball and the NCAA tournament changed that day, and I’m forever grateful to be a part of history. Many people say we brought the Madness to March, and I’m hoping tonight the game between Purdue and UCONN brings an electric end to March Madness!”

The UConn-Purdue tie was quite entertaining for the first half of the contest. While the Huskies were only leading by 6 points in the first half, they took a commanding 21-point lead soon into the 2nd half. Eventually, the Boilermakers failed to come back as they suffered a 60-75 loss. The victory for UConn resulted in the first back-to-back championship win since the Florida Gators in 2006-2007.

Despite the pretty one-sided loss, Zach Edey impressed the basketball community with the production that he had. Playing almost the entirety of the contest, the 7ft 4” phenom had a valiant effort, scoring 37 points and 10 rebounds.

The NCAA Women’s National Championship had 18.7 million viewers

The number of viewers and other such stats regarding tonight’s UConn-Purdue National Championship finals game is not yet disclosed. However, the numbers from the Women’s finals are out and are impressive, to say the least.

“Forever Grateful to Be a Part of History”: Magic Johnson Recalled ‘Record-Setting’ NCAA Finals vs Larry Bird in 1979
Credits: USA Today Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes-South Carolina Gamecocks finals contest was an entertaining bout. Despite Caitlin Clark’s 30-point effort, the Gamecocks finished the season undefeated as they won the battle 87-75. A total of 18.7 million viewers caught the game live, making it the most viewed basketball game – women’s, men’s, college, or pro – in the last five years.

Additionally, per Front Office Sports, the contest also drew the 2nd largest audience from any of last year’s non-NFL sporting events.

Caitlin Clark has been the reason for such staggering numbers. Putting together a historic senior campaign, Clark has achieved some unimaginable feats on the basketball court. Establishing herself as one of the greatest college basketball players ever, she’s the reason why people were tuning in to witness greatness.

About the author

Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia


Advait Jajodia, a seasoned NBA journalist, has had a passion for the game for over a decade. His journey from admiring Kobe Bryant's precision to being in awe of Stephen Curry's long-range mastery instilled a profound understanding of basketball. With a background as a two-time National-level player, Advait uses his experience on the hardwood to offer insightful analysis. Over three years of dedicated sports journalism has equipped the 21-year-old with a unique perspective, reflected in his prolific portfolio of 3,700+ articles.

Read more from Advait Jajodia

Share this article