In his book, “When The Game Was Ours,” Magic reflected on his time in the league and his encounters with Bird. A section of the book narrates how Johnson closely followed Bird’s game, keeping track of his activities and successes.
In the book, the five-time NBA champion describes the Boston Celtics legend as a “measuring stick.” He referenced the 1984 NBA Finals against the Celtics and how Bird led the team to the title in the best-of-seven series.
“When I got to the NBA and played for the Lakers, I watched as many Celtics games as I could so I could keep track of what he was doing,” Johnson said. “He became my measuring stick. The first time we played head-to-head in the Finals, in 1984, Larry got the best of me. It took me years to get over it. Actually, I’m not sure I’m over it yet.
“I was surprised to hear Larry describe watching me win the (1980) NBA championship in my rookie season. He admitted he was jealous, which really shocked me, because he never ever showed it back then.”
A retrospective into Magic Johnson’s career in the NBA
Magic Johnson made his way into the league as the first pick in the 1979 draft. He was selected by the LA Lakers and made his debut on October 12, 1979, posting 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocks. In his rookie season, he combined with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes to lead the Lakers to the title.
He was also an All-Star selection in his rookie season and went on to 11 more All-Star appearances. He has five title rings and was awarded the Finals MVP three times. He was the assists champion four times and steals champion twice.
He has three MVP and two All-Star MVP awards on his shelf and makes the list of top 75 greatest NBA players of all time. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2002 after 13 seasons.