It is assumed that by the time spring melts into summer, Magic will have vanished-poof-from college basketball. Unless all right-thinking Americans band together and sponsor national legislation that would read:
"Wheras the hands and smile of Earvin (Magic) Johnson are unique and invaluable to NCAA basketball; whereas he offers innocent joy to a game gone sadly sober of late . . . be it resolved that he be declared an amateur treasure and not be permitted to turn professional for two (2) years."
Walter Byers, let's get cracking on it.
Muster the sort of sate and congressional lobby for which you're famous. For the first time in years, perhaps ever, most of us wish probasketball was as monopolistic as pro football.
The magic Mark Fidrych gave baseball, Magic brings to basketball. He is a teenager in love with his game-and now, clearly qualified, he wonders if he'should go to work at it. Surely, the NBA cannot be half as much fun.
"You never know till you're there," he said.
For the 10th time, or so it seemed, he had said he would answer no more questions. But this one intrigued him. He stopped tending to his shoe, looked up and said:
"They're two different things, but college has got to be more fun, 'cause the fans are more wild and crazy. They make you want to do things you don't do nowhere else.
"I love it.
"I can't say whether the fans are as crazy in the NBA. It's a living. You're expected to play to your ability every night-and that's not possible.
"High school was great, 'cause everybody knows you-the girls and all. But college is still unique, 'cause everbody's crazy. Our fans are crazy. But crazy good. They're wild, but they never get down on a team.
"I just love it.
"I grew up in East Lansing. It was kinda hard to talk me out of East Lansing. There's nowhere like college."
And Magic has his price. There are enough dollars to coax him from East Lansing and Michigan State-and some NBA team is expected to offer them shortly.
"He came here on a two-year time-table," the Spartan coach, Jud Heathcote, said. "He almost went last year."
Last year Sate lost in the Mideast Region finals, by three points to the Ekntucky team that eventually won the NCAA title. To friends, freshman Johnson said: "I'm coming back. We're gonna win it all next year."
A year ago Duke also tried to win the championship game with a 2.3 match-up zone-and a Wildcat named Jack Givens burned it for 41 points. That was aditional evidence that nobody could win the NCAAs with a zone.
The Spartans also overcame that.
How? By refusingto allow a better player than Givens, Larry Bird, the freedom to find the open spots every zone usually offers.
"I watched that (Duke-Kentucky) game on TV," Greg Kelser said the night before the collision between Michigan State and Indiana State, "and it was hard to believe Givens got away with what he did. He couldn't get inside on us.
"We'll try not to let Bird into the middle, either. There's lots of ways to stop it (a player flashing into the area around the free-throw line, receiving the ball and either shooting or passing it).
"A guard can drop back-or the middle man on the back line can go one on one with him. It all depends on how they attack u. I guess like Kentucky did to Duke, they'll try to attack us in the heart."
They did. But Michigan State had all the Bird traps. And Indiana State had nobody to hit the open shots the Spartan attention to Bird provided. And nobody but brick throwers at the foul line. And Bird, clearly frustrated, took several dumb shots.
"In addition, MSU switched offensive roles part of the game. Kelser, an inside player, often went outside and fed the usual outside player, the straight man for nine assits.
"One of those lobs," Kelser said to Magic. "I didn't think you'd be able toscore on. I thought I got the pass too high."
"It hit me on the hands," said Magic, feigning anger. "When it does that, it's ogin' nowhere else but in."
Kelser is a senior, perhaps the one nonfinancial reason that also will prod Magic toward the NBA. He is one of the few players mentally and physically capable of playing with Magic-and their final performance was a smash.
"Actually," Magic said about 90 minutes after the game, "I'm so drained I don't feel like doing much of anything."
Hearing that, Heathcote skipped a few paces toward the young man who had certified his genius, hugged him and said: "I feel the same way. Let's do nothing together."
As they were about to present themselves to all those wild and crazy Spartan fans, an aide grabbed Heathcote and said: "Ah. Jud, we can't leave without that."
Heathcote also glanced toward the top of a locker and siad, yes, it would be a fine idea to bring along the NCAA championship trophy.