Larry Bird and Magic Johnson produced one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. The two lifted the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers to tremendous sustained success fueled by their fierce competition. The numerous memorable battles led Bird to foster a sole focus to best his longtime rival.
Larry Bird held legendary rivalry with Magic Johnson
Bird and Johnson sparked their iconic rivalry after a memorable matchup in the 1979 NCAA championship game.
The two stars then led the Celtics and Lakers to tremendous success in the 1980s, combining for eight NBA titles in 13 Finals appearances. Their dominance resulted in them becoming the faces of the league as they dominated the decade.
The intense rivalry led them to foster an unwithering bond that connection that remained throughout their illustrious careers.
Larry Bird brashly admitted he only cared about what Magic Johnson accomplished: ‘I really didn’t care what anyone else did’
The rivalry between Bird and Johnson fueled the NBA’s rise to prominence in the 1980s behind the two stars sustained success. ‘
The intense matchups led them to become interlocked with the mindset of the besting the other. Bird revealed as much voicing that he only focused on what the Lakers star accomplished and nothing more across the league.
“I really didn’t care what anyone else did,” Bird said via Bleacher Report. “I always checked what Magic was doing because I knew he was a special player. I was always trying to keep up with things he’s done.”
Johnson served as Bird’s lone source of motivation, while it went vis-versa for the Hall of Fame point guard.
“I really liked the fact that we came in [the NBA] together because it gave a sense of shooting for the stars,” Johnson said. “I knew that I had to play every single night to keep up with Larry Bird over here on the East [Coast].
The two became the faces of the league through their fierce rivalry as the Lakers and Celtics dominated the decade. That alone lifted the other to become the gold standard they aspire to reach and surpass. They knew that they would have to beat the other to achieve championship success.
It became the anchor to their internal drive that pushed them to greatness, and the NBA only served to benefit from the legendary rivalry.
Legendary NBA legacies forever changed the game
The iconic rivalry between Bird and Johnson created many timeless moments that left an irreplaceable imprint on the NBA.
It prevented the league from falling toward a disastrous fate by uplifting it to heights of popularity it hadn’t ventured. The NBA became fueled by the fans enamored with seeing the league’s two biggest stars compete at the highest level, highlighted by their legendary matchups in the NBA Finals.
The game of basketball only stood to reap the benefits from seeing these two all-time greats square off against each other. Their intense rivalry fostered an everlasting bond, but more importantly, greatly influenced the generations of talent that followed them.
Although it’s been more than three decades since they last graced the NBA hardwood, their presence is forever felt.
“It’s just amazing how these guys are playing the game today,” Bird said. “I couldn’t be more prouder of them. The game is in a good place and what I tell all these young players coming into the game today is keep the game the way you found it and it can go on for generations to come.”