Larry Bird was actually an NBA legend and one of the best players to ever play in the league, but it wasn’t until his career started winding down that he began to realize some major differences between himself and Magic Johnson.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are two of the greatest players in NBA history. However, as their careers wound down, Larry Bird pointed out the one major difference between him and Magic Johnson. Read more in detail here: larry bird vs magic johnson head-to-head record.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were often compared during their Hall of Fame careers. In the 1980s, the Boston Celtics forward and Los Angeles Lakers point guard dominated the NBA. Every year of the decade, they led their clubs to the NBA Finals, with the Celtics or Lakers competing in each year.

Their personal rivalry started in college and has continued throughout their professional lives. The two have long been intertwined and are credited with preserving the NBA. Bird saw one noteworthy difference between the two titans as their careers drew to an end.

Larry Bird stated he and Magic Johnson would have been closest friends if they had grown up in the same neighborhood.


Magic-Bird-new-1024x739 On April 11, 2012, in New York City, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird attend the Broadway opening night of “Magic/Bird” at the Longacre Theatre. | FilmMagic/Bruce Glikas

The rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers was intense. The games were rough and tumble, and the teams were equally matched. Despite the fact that the clashes on the court were heated, Bird and Magic had a great deal of respect for one another.

The NBA flourished when Bird and Magic took control. The rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers was reignited. The number of television agreements has increased dramatically. The number of people that attended increased.

“You know how you’ve always wished for someone who thinks like you, plays like you, wants to work hard and progress like you?” In 1991, Johnson told Sports Illustrated. “That’s Larry and me,” says the narrator.

Bird was in the same boat.

“Magic plays the game the way I’ve always wanted it to be played,” he said. “I’d say we’d be great friends if I grew up where he did (in East Lansing, Mich.) and had been on the playgrounds when he was.” And I’ve always felt that way deep down.”

The one major distinction between the two NBA stars was pointed out by Larry Bird.

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Bird and Magic were born into the NBA at the right time. They were the perfect ambassadors for their respective cities. Bird was a hardworking, blue-collar athlete in Boston, but Magic and his enormous grin were ideal for the Hollywood lifestyle in Los Angeles.

As their NBA careers advanced and the competition became more intense, allegations surfaced that the two were feuding.

 “They began to believe it themselves because it was reported in the press that they didn’t like each other,” Magic’s agent, Lon Rosen, told Sports Illustrated.

Things started to loosen up in the mid-’80s.

“Before, we wouldn’t say anything; we’d just stare at one other and wouldn’t even shake hands,” Johnson said. “But now we’ll chat on the court a little bit: ‘I got you that time,’ ‘What are you doing on me?’ ‘You can’t stop it,’ says the narrator. ‘You’re too large to be out here.’ Small things like that. It’s entertaining.” 

There were just too many similarities between them for them not to get along. Bird, on the other hand, pointed out a key distinction.

 “We’re different in certain ways,” Bird stated at the time. “He’s looking for a $100 million payday.” “All I want to do is earn $50 million.”

Bird and Johnson fought until the the end.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird compete in the NBA for the first time in 1979.

One of the greatest rivalries in the history of the game🔥

— (@Ballislife) May 13, 2020

After Johnson declared he had tested positive for HIV during the 1990-91 season, the Bird-Johnson rivalry came to an end. After a poor back impeded his play the following season, Bird retired. Johnson said in a 1991 SI story that he planned to play “two or three” more years before being diagnosed with HIV.

Bird’s body refused to let him be Larry Bird once again. Others, including Johnson, took note.

“He wants to be Larry Bird again,” Johnson remarked, “but his body won’t allow him.” “It shows on his face when he misses a shot he knows he should have made, when he can’t accomplish things he used to be able to do.” He’ll never say it, but he’s a no-nonsense kind.

“He’s in agony, but he’s such a darn fighter that no matter what, he’s not going to give up.” He’d still be out there if the back went out tomorrow since that’s all he knows. That’s why I have to treat him with the greatest respect. He’ll be out there when the chips are down, whether he’s limping around dragging one leg or not.”

In the end, Bird and Magic were two of the best players in the NBA. They were a perfect match for one another.

“Beating Boston and Larry is basically the pinnacle,” Magic remarked. “It’s unique, and it will always be unique.” It’ll be amazing when we’re elderly and we’re playing checkers and I kick his ass.”

‘We didn’t know who was watching,’ the Los Angeles Lakers said of the Boston Celtics during the 1984 NBA Finals.

As their careers wound down, Larry Bird pointed out the one major difference between him and Magic Johnson. Bird said that he was taller than Johnson. Reference: larry bird height.

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