The media has made it seem like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were evenly matched. But these two players had a very different skill set, and the former’s superior gameplan was the difference.
This is a re-post of an article I wrote in the summer of 2008, which I thought was a good article, but I decided I should rewrite it, insert my own opinion on it, and apply extra research.
While most of the NBA’s stars are enjoying their summer vacations, the Boston Celtics are currently holding practice at the University of Massachusetts to get some extra work in for the upcoming season.. Read more about larry bird magic johnson friendship and let us know what you think.
When comparing Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s achievements as players, it’s striking how similar they are. It’s only appropriate, given that they both joined the NBA after appearing in the highest-rated college basketball game in television history. Despite their comparable playing histories, if not approaches, former Indiana Pacers All-Star Jermaine O’Neal believes there is one area where one player has a distinct edge.
Because O’Neal worked for the Indiana Pacers for five years when Bird was the president of basketball operations, there may be some prejudice at play. He did, however, spend 18 years in the NBA and witnessed a lot of the good, bad, and ugly that the game has to offer.
However, it’s interesting noting how similar Bird and Magic’s playing records are when compared side by side.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are still inseparable.
Despite their differences — Magic Johnson being from Lansing, Michigan, and Larry Bird hailing from French Lick, Indiana — they were inextricably connected from the start of their playing careers nearly until the conclusion.
From 1979 through 1992, Bird only played for one club, the Boston Celtics. Johnson was a Laker from 1979 to 1991, then returned for a cameo in 1996 following a four-season hiatus due to HIV.
Both are Hall of Famers, three-time NBA MVPs, 12-time All-Stars, and 10-time All-NBA players. Each player appeared in 13 NBA seasons. Finally, both were members of the famous Dream Team that participated in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona for the United States.
Bird had three All-Defensive selections and was named Rookie of the Year in 1979–80. Magic has five championships to Bird’s three, a 3–2 lead in Finals MVPs, and a 2–1 lead in All-Star Game MVP honors.
Bird’s Celtics won the first meeting in the NBA Finals in 1984, but Magic’s Lakers bounced back with titles in 1985 and 1987.
Their careers are so closely linked that it’s almost eerie.
Larry Bird had an obvious advantage in O’Neal’s eyes, but not on the floor.
In retirement, both Larry Bird and Magic Johnson returned to the NBA. This includes time as head coaches and experience in the front office managing personnel choices.
That, according to O’Neal, is where the two symbols differ. Bird distinguished himself as a coach and executive, he stated during an interview on the Basketball Time Machine podcast on Aug. 10, 2021. Bird’s characteristic trash-talking was mostly gone once his playing days were finished. He didn’t need to be the show’s star any more.
“He had a more relaxed demeanor. He did speak now and again, but he was a pretty calm, laid-back person. You can tell he’s from a little town, so you know he doesn’t have that; he’s not the Magic type that walks into a room and makes everyone aware that Magic is there because he’s so vocal.”
Jermaine O’Neal is a basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In most team sports, great players do not have a good track record of becoming excellent coaches or general managers. Bird had a distinct edge over Johnson in these two categories.
Magic Johnson was the first African-American to enter the coaching ranks, but Bird surpassed him.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, both Lifetime Achievement Award winners, attend the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT on June 24, 2019 at Barker Hangar. Turner Sports/Michael Kovac/Getty Images
It became apparent late in the 1993–94 season that the Lakers would miss the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Magic Johnson was chosen by general manager Jerry West to take over the 28–38 squad.
Coach Magic’s squad responded by winning five of their first six games. It didn’t last long, however; the Lakers lost their last ten games, and Johnson declared that he would complete the season before moving on.
Larry Bird betrayed a promise he made to himself as a player. In 1997, he agreed to a three-year deal to head the Pacers and promised to leave when it ended. In Bird’s debut season, Indiana won 58 games. He was named Coach of the Year, and his team beat the Jordan dynasty in Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals by seven games.
Following an appearance in the NBA Finals in 2000, Bird announced his retirement during the series. After all, it had been three years. In 2003, he returned as president of basketball operations, and in 2012, he made history by being the first NBA MVP to simultaneously earn Coach and Executive of the Year awards.
Johnson rejoined the Lakers as president of basketball operations in February 2017. He suddenly quit in April 2019 after coming with great fanfare. He said again that he wanted to go back to his normal life, but subsequently alleged that general manager Rob Pelinka had deceived him.
They are two of the best players in NBA history, but Larry Bird was a superior behind-the-scenes player. For better or worse, Magic Johnson had a hard time staying out of the limelight.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Magic Johnson Acknowledged That Larry Bird Caused Him Sleepless Nights: ‘I was terrified because I knew he could defeat me.’
The 10-time NBA All-Star revealed in an interview with ESPN that the main reason Larry Bird was able to dominate Magic Johnson repeatedly in the NBA Finals during their rivalry was because of one simple reason: he was the best player on the court, regardless of position.. Read more about larry bird coach and let us know what you think.
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