Catching up with an HBO sports documentary which ran several times in March: ‘Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals,’ painted Boston Celtics basketball star Larry Bird as the victim of a racist national milieu exacerbated by President Ronald Reagan -- a formulation which relied on the expert assessment of a journalist who a few years ago contended that if only Senator Ted Kennedy hadn’t killed her, he “would have brought comfort...in her old age” to Mary Jo Kopechne. Over video zooming in on Reagan at his Oval Office desk, HBO’s narrator intoned:
But as Magic enjoyed his image as a crossover star, it was Bird, the one-time great white hope, who had further emerged as the polarizing racial figure due in part to that era's increasingly conservative political climate.
Then, the Boston Globe’s Charles Pierce argued “the triumph of the movement” that supposedly “rolled back” civil rights “took place in the 1980s” and that caused “sublimated frustration” amongst black Americans “and I think one of the ways it got sublimated was into basketball” with Bird catching those “lingering resentments.” On screen as Pierce spoke, this New York Times headline:
STUDY SAYS BLACKS HAVE LOST GROUND Finds Reagan's Policies Have Hurt the Poor and Imperil Emerging Middle Class