NBA Legacies: Remembering the Rivalry of Magic vs. Bird

magic johnson, los angeles lakers, statue, staples center
Magic Johnson, Immortalized Forever. Photo Credit: tenaciousme, Flickr.com

Sometimes as sports fans, we forget about the past.

We don’t remember or don’t know how we got to a certain point in our favorite sports. This is the true case of basketball.

The NBA Finals are in full swing, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors deadlocked in their battle for NBA championship glory. During the midst of this battle, there seems to be something missing.

Where is the homage to those days of yesteryear?

Yes, there comes a time when eras end and new ones begin. But there’s also time to respect the wars of old. Basketball doesn’t do that. In fact, they’ve forgotten what came before.

You can listen to the casual fan discuss their appreciation for LeBron James. Those fans think he’s the best of all-time. I guess we forgot about Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Bill Russell.

Between the Ages of Russell and Jordan was an era when basketball was on its deathbed. Call this the dark times. Call this the era when everything wasn’t politically correct.

The 1970s ended for basketball with a loud thud. Sales were at an all-time low. Games were either put on tape delay or not even shown at all. And fans, in those times, didn’t even care.

The NBA needed a savior to rescue them from their own professional hell. Miraculously, they got two of them.

larry bird, converse, boston celtics, plaque
Larry Bird, Immortalized Forever. Photo Credit: cliff1066, Flickr.com

Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird began their rivalry in the 1979 NCAA Championship game, with Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans beating Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores. That game laid the foundation of what was to come.

Magic went to the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird to the Boston Celtics. Bird won rookie of the year in the 1979-80 season, while Magic led the Lakers to an NBA title the same year.

The rivalry dominated the 1980s. The NBA was gaining ground little by little. Magic and Bird went head-to-head in the NBA Finals, with Magic’s Lakers winning two out of three against Bird’s Celtics.

Basketball never looked back. Magic and Bird’s rivalry saved the NBA from going out of business.

Many things came out of that rivalry besides their legendary games. The finals are now televised live on primetime. Sneakers are a huge moneymaking business. Before Air Jordans were a thought, Magic and Bird helped bring out Converse’s “Weapon” sneaker. The seeds were planted for those after them to reap the benefits. And the NBA did just that.

It’s why remembering what they’ve done is important. Too many just brush it aside. But in today’s sports world, they’re just as significant as ever.

If you want to learn more, watch HBO Films’ “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” It’s one of the best basketball documentaries you’ll find and really gives perspective of what the NBA could’ve gone without them.

So thank Magic and Bird for giving you more basketball. There wouldn’t have been James, Bryant or even Jordan in the NBA. The 1992 Basketball Dream Team would only be a concept and not reality. Because none of it would have existed without Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Remember to check out the Facebook page for the Update. You can also check out my professional website for my other works and accomplishments. Don’t forget to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and keep on reading. Until then, see you next time sports fans.

Yours Truly,

Sebastian Maldonado

Copyright @ 2007

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