Magic Johnson Admitted His Archrival Larry Bird Was the Only Player He Ever Feared

Nearly three decades since stepping into retirement, the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird remains a prominent fixture in NBA history. Johnson and Bird fostered an intense competition that brought the most out of each other. It also led the former Los Angeles Lakers great to make a notable admission about the Boston Celtics legend.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird shared an intense rivalry

The two first ignited their rivalry after an intense matchup in the 1979 NCAA championship game.

Johnson led Michigan State past Bird and Indiana State, setting the stage for one of the greatest rivalries in sports history. The two stars quickly became the faces of the NBA’s two most historic franchises, leading them to championship success.

Johnson and Bird dominated the 1980s by combining to win eight NBA titles in 13 FInals appearances, with the former grabbing the edge twice in three matchups on the grandest stage. The fierce rivalry became the anchoring point that saved the league from heading toward a disastrous fate.

The two Hall of Famers played a crucial part in lifting the NBA to a level of global popularity it hadn’t reached before. The intense competition also pushed them to incredible career heights while forever changing the game of basketball.

Along the way, the two developed an unbreakable bond behind their immense desire to best the other. It also led Johnson to make a revealing confession concerning his longtime rival.

Magic Johnson admitted his archrival Larry Bird was the only player he ever feared

The intense rivalry between Johnson and Bird headlined much of the 1980s as the Lakers and Celtics dominated the decade.

The sustained success led the two Hall of Famers to experience numerous fierce battles, building an unwavering level of mutual respect. Johnson took it a step further by voicing that he only feared Bird.

“When I played, Larry Bird was the only one I feared,” Johnson said via ESPN. “A lot of black guys always ask me, ‘Did Larry Bird really play that good?’ I said Larry Bird is so good it’s frightening.”

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise due to their respective careers being significantly intertwined. Bird also repeatedly voiced that Johnson was the only player he cared about outside of his Celtics teammates. The two pushed each other to greater heights, serving as each’s greatest motivating factor.

The rivalry only spawned a stronger desire to outperform and out succeed the other with championship success. Johnson and Bird may not have liked each other for several years, but the two always shared tremendous admiration toward their respective excellence at their craft.

Beyond that, Johnson’s comments only further underline that notion as the two needed the other to bring the most out of themselves.

Legendary rivalry forever changed the NBA


Larry Bird Brashly Admitted He Only Cared About What Magic Johnson Accomplished: ‘I Really Didn’t Care What Anyone Else Did’

Johnson and Bird had undoubtedly the greatest rivalry in NBA history.

The two stars became the faces of the league that lifted the game of basketball to a level of popularity that inspired the many generations of players that followed them. Johnson and Bird left an irreplaceable imprint that played a pivotal part in making it a globalized sport.

Johnson remains arguably the greatest point guard in league history. Meanwhile, Bird holds the unshakable reputation as an all-time great alongside his longtime rivalry. It’s been more than three decades since the two last played each other, but they have left an everlasting impact that has only grown stronger with time.

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