did magic and bird hate each other

March 26, 1979. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird met for the first time in the NCAA national championship. The initial battle was an appetizer for the following decade as the pair became two of the greatest NBA players in history. They developed a fierce personal rivalry during the ’80s that included three meetings in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics-Lakers already had an established rivalry. Bird and Johnson took it to another level. There was a true dislike for one another. However, that animosity suddenly vanished during their primes.

Known for their intense rivalry, one of the greatest in sports history, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird kept the NBA alive in the 1980s. Although Johnson and Bird were close friends, they had a hated rivalry during their formative years as players for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.

Bird was among the distinguished guests in 1992 when the Los Angeles Lakers retired Johnson’s jersey. A year later, Johnson returned the favor by wearing a Boston Celtics shirt underneath his Lakers warm-ups, after the team had retired the Birds jersey.

Over the course of their careers, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird maintained their friendship. NPR reported that Bird was among the first athletes Johnson contacted after learning he had HIV.

Johnson said in an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” that he didn’t become friends with Bird right away. The 1979 NCAA title match between Johnson’s Michigan State and Birds Indiana State marked the beginning of their rivalry. They didn’t become friends until 1985, when they were filming a Converse ad.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird battle for NBA supremacy

In 1979–1980, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both became members of the NBA. Bird averaged 21. 3 points, won Rookie of the Year, and made his first of 12 All-Star appearances. The Celtics lost in the conference finals.

Johnson finished his rookie season averaging 18 points. He was selected for the All-Rookie team and his first of 11 All-Star games. The Lakers defeated the 76ers in the NBA Finals.

Three NBA Finals meetings between Bird and the Celtics and Johnson and the Lakers occurred over the course of the following ten years. Johnson won twice. Johnson had five NBA titles and three Finals MVP honors when their careers ended in the 1990s, while Bird had three titles and two Finals MVP honors.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird meet for the first time in college

On March 26, 1979, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans squared off against Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores for the NCAA championship. Given that two of the best players in the country were competing for the championship, expectations were understandably high.

The game lived up to the billing. Johnson scored 24 points. Bird tallied 19. In what continues to be the highest-rated college basketball match in television history, Johnson’s Spartans prevailed 75-64.

Years later, Larry Bird admitted that game was especially painful.

“You never get over that. It’s impossible to get over it when you get your heart broken,” Bird admitted, according to the NCAA. “I knew going into that game that I was going to have to play the best game I’d ever play in my life, and I didn’t do it. I let us all down.”


Did Magic and Bird have a rivalry?

Basketball history has been graced by extraordinary talents, but few rivalries have left an indelible mark quite like the captivating duel between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Their on-court battles became the stuff of legend, shaping the landscape of the NBA and captivating fans worldwide.

Did Bird ever beat magic?

Magic beat him in the NCAA Finals, then beat Bird twice in the NBA Finals while Bird only beat Magic once.

Are Magic Johnson and Kareem friends?

Magic and Kareem’s relationship extended beyond the court. They shared a genuine friendship that transcended their professional careers, often engaging in thoughtful discussions on various topics.

Did Magic Johnson and Larry Bird play each other in college?

It was in 1979 when Magic Johnson first tasted victory over his archrival Larry Bird. The two starred in one of the greatest NCAA duels of all time when Johnson’s Michigan State took on Bird’s Indiana State. Decades have passed, but Magic never misses a year without relishing that moment.