While Larry Bird won six NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, there’s one guy he didn’t get along too well with: Magic Johnson. The two superstars got to know each other when they both played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but their relationship didn’t start out on the right foot. Bird reportedly didn’t like Magic Johnson’s personality and was less than fond of Magic’s interest in the politics of the NBA.
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Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were two of the greatest players in NBA history. Both won championships, but Larry Bird didn’t think much of Magic Johnson. It seemed like every time Magic Johnson came up for a rebound, Bird would roar. All of a sudden, Larry Bird started to hate Magic Johnson.. Read more about larry bird height and let us know what you think.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are two of the NBA’s all-time greats. In the 1980s, their legendary Magic vs. Bird rivalry dominated the sport. On the court, these two were ferocious rivals, but they were also close friends off it.
How are these two basketball foes so close on a human level? Bird once stated that they can make it work because he has a different connection with “the man,” Ervin Johnson, than he has with Magic Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star.
Throughout their careers, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were competitors, but they eventually became friends.
The Magic vs. Bird rivalry began in 1979, when Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Cinderella Indiana State Sycamores to win the NCAA National Championship.
The two Hall of Famers subsequently joined the NBA, landing on opposite coasts. The Boston Celtics of Larry Bird and the Los Angeles Lakers of Magic Johnson defined the following decade of basketball. At least one of these teams appeared in every NBA Finals from 1980 through 1989. The LA Lakers won five titles during this period, while the Celtics won three.
When they first entered the NBA, Bird and Magic were fierce rivals. A Converse shoe commercial shoot, however, altered everything.
For the shoot, the two athletes were stranded in Bird’s hometown of French Lick, Indiana, and Bird’s mother prepared lunch for them. Bird and Magic discovered during a dinner that, although their early surroundings were very different, their upbringings and experiences were quite similar.
The two greats have been buddies since that memorable dinner in French Lick.
Bird expressed his feelings on Ervin vs. Magic Johnson to David Letterman.
Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and David Letterman (from left to right) | Photo courtesy of Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images
Bird and Johnson, now that their playing careers are ended, appear together on a regular basis as friends. A sit-down on David Letterman’s Late Show was one of these appearances.
Bird and Magic’s relationship was discussed by the three legends, including how Bird felt about Ervin Johnson, the man, vs. Magic Johnson, the Lakers star:
Letterman: I believe I recall you saying in the documentary that you loved Ervin but didn’t care for Magic. Is it true — and if so, what does it mean?
Bird: Ervin the guy is one thing; Ervin the basketball player, on the other hand, I had a problem with. Of course, it ended twenty years ago, but… I’m not sure I can express what I think.
Ervin “Magic” Johnson, according to Larry Bird
Magic expressed his pleasure after hearing Bird say this while seated next to him. Johnson said, “It makes me feel wonderful.” “I was meant to be a thorn in his side. I’m meant to kick his behind out there.”
He went on to say that although the two players didn’t like one other on the court, they did have a great deal of mutual respect. Magic vs. Bird is the greatest rivalry in NBA history because of their mutual hatred and adoration.
The Lakers and Celtics didn’t play each other as much as you would expect.
The Magic-Bird rivalry is the most well-known and significant long-running head-to-head rivalry in NBA history. The two all-time greats, however, did not play as much against one another as it may seem.
On December 28, 1979, they played their first NBA game against each other. On February 15, 1991, they had their last meeting. Between then and now, Bird’s Celtics and Johnson’s Lakers played a total of 37 games, 18 in the regular season and 19 in the playoffs.
Of course, those 19 playoff games (actually, NBA Finals games) are among the most memorable in NBA history.
More often than not, Johnson’s Lakers defeated the Celtics. In the regular season, the Magic were 11-7 versus Bird, and in the Finals, they were 11-8. When it came to scoring, though, Bird had the upper hand. In the regular season, the Legend scored 21.7 points per game and 25.3 points per game in the Finals, whereas Johnson scored 19.4 and 20.7 points per game, respectively.
In the matches, Bird also had more rebounds (10.9 regular season, 11.1 playoffs) and blocks (1.0), but Magic had more assists (11.5, 13.5) and steals (2.2).
Championships are the most significant number in a head-to-head matchup, and Magic holds the advantage there. In the NBA Finals in 1984, 1985, and 1987, Boston and Los Angeles faced off. In 1984, the Celtics won the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the Lakers won it in 1985 and 1987.
Basketball Reference and Stathead provided all stats.
‘There isn’t a White Guy on the Planet Who Can Guard Me,’ Larry Bird once told Charles Barkley during a game.
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