More than three decades later, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird remain among the greatest players in league history. Their fierce rivalry lifted them to legendary status while leading the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics to greatness. Although the two initially shared an intense hatred, it became a friendship rooted in mutual admiration.
As Bird stepped into retirement, Johnson reminded the Celtics star of the only lie he told him.
Magic Johnson shared a legendary rivalry with Larry Bird
Before Johnson and Bird graced the NBA hardwood, the two began their intense rivalry in the 1979 NCAA championship game.
They quickly became the centerpieces of the most illustrious franchises in league history. Johnson and Bird dominated the 1980s, winning eight NBA titles in 13 finals appearances.
The two Hall of Famers faced each other three times on the grandest stage, with the Lakers coming out on top twice. They combined to win five Finals MVP awards and six regular-season MVP awards, and receive 24 All-Star selections and 18 All-NBA First Team nods.
More importantly, they prevented the NBA from falling to a troubling fate by instead lifting the league to previously unreached popularity. Their heated rivalry brought the best out of each other that only benefitted the NBA through their greatness and countless iconic moments.
As Bird stepped toward retirement, Johnson provided the Celtics one last reminder of the only lie he told him during their illustrious careers.
Magic Johnson accused Larry Bird of telling only 1 lie during their heated rivalry
The intense rivalry between Johnson and Bird laid the foundation for a tremendously strong relationship.
What started as a bitter competition to one-up the other transitioned into the two fostering a bond that extended off the court. Johnson demonstrated that growth in their connection during “Larry Bird Night’ on Feb. 5, 1993, as the Lakers star called out his rival colleague over the only lie he believes he made over his career.
“You only told me one lie in your career,” Johnson said. “You only told one lie to the fans all the people in the world one time. Do you know what that lie was? You don’t remember, do you?
“Larry Bird said there would be another Larry Bird one day, and Larry there will never ever ever ever be another Larry Bird. I don’t care how many players, there will never ever be another Larry Bird. You can take that to the bank.”
Over his 13-year career, Bird demonstrated the unique ability to impact the game through his all-around skill set. The Celtics star wasn’t athletically gifted, but his prowess for the game transformed his team into a powerhouse in the 1980s while lifting himself toward recognition as one of the greatest players in league history.
Bird certainly knew how talented he was, but Johnson provided the strong reminder that there will never be another player quite like him to grace the NBA hardwood.
NBA legacies remain forever intertwined
Johnson and Bird hold the league’s most iconic rivalry that changed the NBA while lifting them into legendary status.
The former Lakers star is held as the greatest point guard, while Bird receives recognition as one of the greatest players. Their intense rivalry inspired the generations of players after them to pursue basketball careers. They anchored the NBA’s rise to prominence as one of the most popular entities globally.
Johnson and Bird’s intense rivalry has their legacies forever intertwined. Meanwhile, their friendship is fueled by their passion for the game and tremendous respect toward each other.