The magic of professional basketball, best symbolized by the play of Magic Johnson and the champion Los Angeles Lakers or Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, is captured on some new action-jammed videos capable of juicing up slam-dunk junkies for the NBA season,which opens this week.
The headliner of the four video yearbooks produced by NBA Entertainment, Inc., and CBS Fox Video is The Drive for Five about the Lakers' fast break to their fifth league title. Next in line is The Home of the Brave, on the Celtics' injury-plagued effort to defend their title. This reel includes Boston's 1985-86 highlights entitled Sweet Sixteen, when Bird and Co., annexed Boston's 16th NBA crown. The two other video yearbooks are the Atlanta Hawks', Basketball's Air Force and Houston's Hangin' Tough. All are priced at $29.98 and 60 minutes, except for the Boston double-feature special which lasts two hours.
Magnificient shots and breath-taking plays are plentiful on all reels, but they seem so much faster and niftier when the champion Lakers are performing. Magic's shots and dish-offs are astounding no matter how many times you watch them.
The Lakers video has additional charm with its exclusive interviews, including a set of "Laker Awards" spliced amid the drive to the playoffs. Players themselves explain their votes on awards such as "Ugliest Shot," "Biggest Beach Bum," "Best Singer" and "Best Haircut" (Kareem votes for himself). These vignettes bring about a delightful look at the people inside the purple and gold jerseys. Most impressive were the chats with Michael Cooper. The 174-pound iron-man, who has played in more than 500 consecutive games, comes across as a bright and delightfully humorous person with a old-fashioned work ethic.
The standout feature of the Celtics' video, other than the team's ability to come up with a new hero every time another injury crops up, is the fun-loving way the players describe how they interact with each other and coach K.C. Jones. Danny Ainge refers to Kevin McHale as the "Black Hole," because "once you throw the ball into him it never comes back out."
The 1985-86 "Sweet Sixteen" highlights offer much better glimpses of the opponents and NBA Superstars than the others, which tend to focus too tightly on one team. This one doesn't degenerate into a parade of the ice-bucket and tape brigade that mowed down last year's hopes of becoming the first NBA champion to repeat in 18 years.
One other Boston video is out there. If you want to know a little more about the game and why or how players do what they do so well, Winning Basketball will enlighten you. It can be most helpful for youngsters and teen-agers who are interested in playing the game well.
Washington's basketball legend "Red" Auerbach teams up with Larry Bird on this Kodak video (61 minutes, $19.95). All the fundamentals are covered with most all of the other Celtics taking part in the demonstrations. Sandy Grossman, of CBS and NFL film fame, does an excellent job of meshing game clips into the how-to segments.
Auerbach, who has almost 40 years in the league dating back to when he coached the Washington Caps (who moved to Boston and became the Celtics), is pleased with the product. He says, "Our tape is about the fundamentals of winning and what it takes to be a winner. A lot is made of Celtic pride and it dwells on the hard work Larry and our players put into the game day in and day out."