One on One: Larry Bird vs. John D’Agata

categories: Cocktail Hour


When I was young a lot of my heroes were writers.  But not all of them.  One was 6’11” and from French Lick.  

Larry’s great strength as a speaker was his directness (“Mosses does eat shit,” being one of his witticisms.  See the Churchill Wit.) 

And in today’s New York Times he has something direct to say that speaks worlds to the D’Agata/truth in nonfiction brouhaha.   

About the play Magic/Bird which just opened on Broadway and on which he consulted, he says:

“My main thing is to get it right.  Don’t say my mother said this when she didn’t.” 

Magic, of course, takes the softer side: “We just wanted to capture our voice and make sure that, yes, it was an intense and tough rivalry, yet still, I’ve got this personality and Larry’s this subdued cat.”

Sounds a whole lot like “the emotional truth.”

Larry Joe will have none of it: “You wrote that Red said ‘S.O.B.’ but he never swore. ”  And on insisting that the writers change the alcohol that Red was drinking to a Shasta: “I don’t ever remember Red drinking.”


No nonsense.  The Larry Bird approach to nonfiction.

  1. Bill writes:

    Let’s leave John D’Agata alone for a while, what do you say? He’s just a writer like the rest of us. Whereas we’re all better basketball players than Larry Bird. Am I getting the metaphor properly mixed?

  2. monica wood writes:

    Gotta love the Hick from French Lick.