Slam Dunk! Magic/Bird Shoots High, Opening on Broadway April 11

By Kenneth Jones
11 Apr 2012

Tug Coker as Larry Bird.
photo by Joan Marcus

Magic/Bird will welcome Hall of Famer "Magic" Johnson for a special talkback following an added 2 PM April 13 matinee. The discussion is the first in what will be a series of special nights throughout the run of the show. On April 19 a host of retired NBA stars will be on hand for "Legends of Basketball Night," and the United States Olympic Committee will host a special "Olympic Athlete Night" April 17. Other special events will be announced at a later time.

Read's earlier exclusive interview with Magic Johnson.

The Magic/Bird creative team also includes Paul Tazewell (costumes), Nevin Steinberg (sound) and Jeff Sugg (projections). Hair/wig design is by Charles G. LaPointe, dialect coach is by Stephen Gabis, technical supervisor is David Benken, production stage manager is J. Philip Bassett.

O'Connell plays Georgia Bird/Shelly/Patricia Moore, Scolari plays Red Auerbach/Jerry Buss/Pat Riley, Manning Jr. plays Michael Cooper/Henry Alvarado/Frank, and Battiste plays Jon Lennox/Ron Baxter/Willy.

Here's how the producers bill Magic/Bird: "At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports history, two of the greatest basketball players of all-time battled for three championships, bragging rights, and the future of their sport in the 1980s. Johnson and Bird electrified the nation on the court, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into one of the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports."

With a name to inspire sports fans, Coker, a 34-year-old, 6-feet-5-inch former NCAA college basketball player, has film and TV credits guesting on "Torchwood," "Hot in Cleveland," "CSI: Miami," "Community" and more, and appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream at American Repertory Theatre in Boston. He is (naturally) a devoted Boston Celtics fan.

Daniels grew up in Houston and Irving, TX, and played high school basketball before becoming an actor. "I was 6-foot-5, I was black and I lived in Texas," he told, with a laugh. "It's in my blood."

Yes, he's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers — Magic's old team.

Since landing the job, Daniels scoured "every bit of youtube footage" of Johnson, his games and his interviews, the actor said. Daniels is impressed with Johnson. "No matter what interview, he's always that same guy — relaxed and laid back, with a confidence," the actor said.

For more about Magic/Bird, visit


Read more about Magic/Bird in Playbill Vault, the internet's most comprehensive database of Broadway information.

Curious about Eric Simonson's earlier Broadway play, Lombardi, about football coach Vince Lombardi? Visit the Lombardi Playbill Vault entry.

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