Thursday , Dec , 06 , 2007 Oly Sandor

The Golden Era’s Greatest Player: Larry Bird Or Magic Johnson?

As the Kobe or LeBron debate rages, HoopsVibe has decided to turn back the clock and compare the game’s best players from another era. Twenty years ago, the NBA belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Most hoop fans were polarized, supporting either Boston’s ‘Hick from French Lick’ or L.A.’s Magic Man. There was no in-between. Larry-Legend and Magic were rivals …

As the Kobe or LeBron debate rages, HoopsVibe has decided to turn back the clock and compare the game’s best players from another era.

Twenty years ago, the NBA belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Most hoop fans were polarized, supporting either Boston’s ‘Hick from French Lick’ or L.A.’s Magic Man.

There was no in-between. Larry-Legend and Magic were rivals.

Their styles of play couldn’t have been more different. Bird’s Celtics ran a methodical half-court game, while Magic’s Lakers were all Showtime, pushing the tempo and outrunning opponents.

But the blue-collar shooter and dime-dropping point brought the NBA back from oblivion, mesmerizing fans all over the world.

So now HoopsVibe readers must settle a classic debate. Who ran the eighties: Larry Bird or Magic Johnson?

As always, read the post, form an opinion, and vote for Bird or Magic in the comment box below. We will tally the votes and get back to you with the results.

The Case For Larry Bird

  • From 1982-1987, Bird was the NBA’s best player, making All-Star teams, winning 3 NBA Championships, and collecting 3 consecutive MVP awards.
  • His 1986 Celtics are considered one of the league’s all-time teams, winning 67 regular season games and defeating the Rockets in the NBA Finals.
  • Bird made an immediate impact. The Celtics improved by 32 wins during his rookie season.
  • The Numbers: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1998); NBA champion (1981, ’84, ’86); NBA Finals MVP (1984, ’86); NBA MVP (1984, ’85, ’86); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1980-88); All-NBA Second Team (1990); All-Defensive Second Team (1982, ’83, ’84); NBA Rookie of the Year (1980); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist (1992).
  • Best of all, Bird possessed an indefinable quality that made him great …

The Case For Magic Johnson

  • Johnson has to be considered one of the greatest and most unique basketball players of all-time. With his size, he could play all five positions, but re-defined the point guard spot with his trademark no-look pass.
  • Magic won back-to-back NBA Titles during one of the NBA’s golden ages. The 1987 Lakers are considered an all-time great squad; of course, Johnson is remembered for his last second hook shot in game four of the NBA Finals.
  • The Numbers: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2002); NBA champion (1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88); NBA Finals MVP (1980, ’82, ’87); NBA MVP (1987, ’89, ’90); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1983-91); All-NBA Second Team (1982); 12-time All-Star; All-Star MVP (1990, ’92); J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1992); Olympic gold medalist (1992); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
  • Like Bird, Magic always seemed destined for greatness …

The Verdict: Magic by a slight hair.

Why: Both players were amazing, defining a special era for the NBA. However, true greatness is measured by one thing-NBA Titles.

Johnson won five NBA Titles over his career, while Bird won three. Furthermore, Magic’s Lakers edged Bird’s Celtics 2-1 in head-to-head play in the Finals.

Again, Bird is an all-time great, but Magic gets the nod because of total championships.

Magic or Bird? Who do you see as the dominant player of the eighties? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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