Rock fan asked in SportsBasketball · 9 years ago

Larry Bird or Magic Johnson?

Who was better

14 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Larry Bird

    Strengths: Excellent jump shot. Fundamentally sound player. Automatic at the free throw line. The greatest clutch player since Jerry West. Very good team defender. His first year, he improved the Celtics 32 games in the win-loss. When he missed 76 games in the 1989 season, Boston replaced him with Reggie Lewis (who was 2nd in most improved player voting), yet the Celtics slipped from 57 wins to 40, despite having Lewis, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish on the roster. The only 1 of 2 players in history to lead his team in ppg,rpg,apg,spg, FT% per attempts for at least 94% of his career. Oscar is the other.

    Weaknesses: His lack of athleticism only affected one area: he wasn't a great on the ball defender. His hustle shortened his career and made him injury prone, but you don't condemn a player for diving for balls and sacrificing his body for the team.

    Analysis: If you doubt his ability to improve a random group of players, look at what he did at ISU - he took a team of no-names to a near perfect season. On that ISU team Bird was the only one who went to the NBA, Michigan State had 3 players including Magic who got drafted. Bird always had to do more with less, the Celtics were never better than the Lakers except for 3 out of 12 seasons. His first year in the NBA, without McHale and Parish, he turned the Celtics from a 29-win joke to the best record in basketball. When he missed 1989, they fell apart without him.

    Magic Johnson

    Strengths: Unmatched size in a guard. He could see over a defense and post up a guard, creating a match-up nightmare. Probably the best, if not most exciting, point guard on the fast break. He can play a variety of roles. He was a supporting player to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he joined the team, and later became the focal point of the offense. He could play fast break and he could play slow-down, as he proved in 1991. He played every position as a rookie in the deciding game 6 of the finals and put up a game for the ages, winning the title without Jabbar.

    Weaknesses: He never was the shooter and scorer that Bird was. He developed a respectable shot from the perimeter, but never the deadly jumper of Bird. He was a good, but not dominating defensive player. Bird was still the better defender regardless. I mean if MJ is best because of his D then Bird is better than Magic. Defense matters. Magic also didn't dominate every major stat category like Bird did, Magic led his team in assists for his career, led in ppg apg for a TOTAL of 3 years, either Wilkes,Worthy, Kareem, and Scott with a MONSTER bench every year is what Magic was lucky enough to go to every year. Remember Bird led all of his Celtic HOFers on his team in ppg,rpg,apg,spg and FT% for 94% plus of his career...Magic simply did not. For the first 5 games of the '80 series Jabbar was the Finals MVP WITHOUT A DOUBT...Kareem put up monster numbers, until he got hurt in game 5.

    Analysis: Bird and Magic is a comparison that will be debated forever. It is extremely hard to pick between the two. In the end, I go with Bird because of these reasons: Magic could play more positions, but Bird had the more well-rounded game. Each won championships with talented supporting teams, but Bird turned a bad Boston team around immediately. Magic joined a 47 win Lakers team and improved them 13 wins, which wasn't as drastic as Bird's 32 game improvement. Then, there was the feud with Paul Westhead in 1982 and the "Tragic Magic" choke in the 1984 finals. It's one thing to miss a shot, but he pulled a world-class choke in those finals. He made up for it with clutch performances, but comparing Bird and Magic is splitting hairs, and that was a big choke that gave Bird the title, that should have been Magic's.Magic also air balled a layup in 1981 that sent the Rockets to the Finals. (2 CHOKES NOT 1)...Bird never choked he just was on inferior teams to Magic or injured for his last 3.5 years of his career. Since Rings are a TEAM accomplishment, and no great player has ever won without a great team behind him....rings make the weakest argument for how great a player REALLY is.

    Bird: 84th all time Defensive rating...for a reason.

    Magic: 221st all time Defensive rating....for a reason.

    Magic is 2nd all time in Triple Doubles; Bird is 5th...but do you know what each of their triple doubles averages are?.....

    Magic 22pts, 11rebs, 15 assists...

    .Bird 31pts 17rebs 12assists.....

    Bird Wins. I mean Jason Kidd is 3rd all time in triple doubles but I wouldn't take Kidd over Oscar,Bird or Magic. Triple doubles can be one of the most deceiving stats in terms of judging impact a player has on the floor.

    Magic had that great Finals game in '80...but Bird's avg in the finals for his career is 27ppg 9rpg 7apg @FG 48% Bird shot 5,000 more career shots than Magic....Bird 50%, Jordan 50%, Magic 52%....Magic was not a dominant Bird,MJ and MOST all time greats.

    Source(s): A big reason why magic won was b/c of the greatest front office in NBA history and his TEAM was the best ever assembled. Period. Bird did more overall for his team.Another Point: Magic never got an MVP until AFTER Bird got his first back injury. I believe to compare players you compare primes most of all...Bird before the first back injury was 26.8ppg 12.2rpg and 8.6 apg...@52% shooting please let that soak in. Magic never got those overall numbers when he was healthy even. Bird = better rebounder , scorer, and defender, and also WAY more clutch (by far).Bird is considered one of/if not the greatest clutch player ever, and passing between them is a toss up for me sooo....I'll take Bird even though I once said magic was better.Class is dismissed.
  • 7 years ago

    They were both great... you can't really compare a forward to a point guard. Larry was the better shooter, he was pure and was also a great passer, but Magic's game was being his teams leader and distributing the ball, better than anyone I had ever seen. Magic was so unselfish, he was much happier hitting a teammate with a great pass for a layup or slam dunk, than scoring himself. The NBA has never seen a point guard like Magic, before or since. They were both awesome!

  • 4 years ago

    i'm style of shocked at how actual every person is asserting magic. I propose their the two legends and could desire to the two make a case for being maximum impressive 5 (maybe 10) to have ever performed the sport. yet nonetheless with all that... i could could desire to declare magic. the guy replaced right into a wide-unfold out on the floor. no longer many people can dictate a interest like he did.

  • 9 years ago

    Magic Johnson. Guy was an amazing point gaurd. Larry Bird is overrated IMO.

    As Spike Lee said it, Larry Bird is an overrated product of the white media.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Magic. He was simply a winner on both the college and pro levels, including championships over Bird. He won the series of games between him and Bird throughout his career. Bird would not be able to play in today's game, while I am confident Magic could adapt and change to play in any era.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    larry bird magic was just more flashy when he played bird was one of the most clutch players ive seen

  • Larry bird

  • 9 years ago


    Larry was pure skills but lack of athleticism.

    Magic has great set of skills and he was a great


  • 9 years ago

    No wrong answer here, but I liked Larry Bird's blue collar approach to the game. I would rather have Bird as a teammate.

  • 9 years ago

    In my very own opinion, Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

    Well even Larry himself shares my opinion when he said Magic is the greatest player he faced.

    He was the pivotal player for Michigan State University's 1979 NCAA championship. Initially Earvin wanted to go to rival University of Michigan, but because the management and coaches promised him that he could have full control of the plays and the ball he opted to go to Michigan State and quickly transformed the school's fate by making them compete for the crown for the first time in years. Magic would then meet his rival Bird in NCAA's most watched Finals game, Magic would power Michigan for the win but without a valiant effort from Larry Legend the bottom line is Magic was the winner.

    After arriving in the NBA, Magic would again propel the Lakers to a 60 and 22 win-loss record that in comparison to their record their previous year's record of 47-35. And we all know how he ended the 6 game struggle with Philadelphia in 1980.Not to mention this rookie getting the Finals MVP.

    Bird would get his lone revenge in 1983, After Magic would collapse under pressure and Jabbar further weakening because of age, Johnson would term the series later: "the one championship we should have had but didn't get".

    Johnson would exact revenge two years later in 1985, powered by Jabbar's 30.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.0 blocks Finals averages the lakers would claim the gold in Boston's home floor, the first time it has ever happened. 1987 was much colder as Johnson would finally close out the difference betwwen them with his now famous "junior, junior, junior sky-hook" to clinch the series Johnson would again win Finals MVP.

    The difference for Johnson was he went to Finals in 1991 without Jabbar proving that he can stand on his own that in comparison with the Bird's Celtics who never went back to the Finals after their loss to the Lakers in 1987. Johnson would win 5 championships during his prime years to Bird's 3, Magic would also win 3 NBA MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs for his career just to prove how great Magic was.

    I maybe biased since Magic was my very first NBA idol, But I guess his career achievement more than covers for his greatness.

    Source(s): idk
  • 9 years ago


    LOL! It seems like things are going out of hand, let me keep this simple:

    Bird was a better rebounder

    Bird was just as good of a passer, if not as good, then definitely second to Magic at the time, he could pass just as good as Magic could, and just as flashy. Look up his highlights sir, you wont be disappointed.

    Bird is a better scorer

    Bird is more clutch

    HERE'S THE IMPORTANT PART: The reason Magic has more rings is that he beat other teams that were weaker, most notably the Philadelphia 76's. But if you want to compare championships against Larry....well,

    Bird and Magic both beat each other twice exactly in the Finals, BUT.....

    Understand this,

    the one season Bird was unhealthy and shooting left handed during a season was the same season he beat Magic in the Finals. Their next meeting, Magic won, but like I said, it was Magic's second time beating him. BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, Magic legitimately beat Bird once because the season he beat Bird was when the Celtics were very unhealthy and had big time players injured. And it still took the Lakers 6 games to do it, when many were wondering why it wasn't a quicker series, people were asking why they couldn't get it done in 4, or at least 5 games, but 6 GAMES WITH A HURT BIRD AND INJURED MCHALE vs. THE GREATEST LAKER TEAM OF THE 80's??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

    Bird's athleticism is underrated as well, I will agree he wasn't as great of an athlete, but at average to say the least.

    Bird once averaged a near QUADRUPLE DOUBLE during the '86 season. And for his career, he averages close to a triple double with double digit pts + assists and just over 8 assists per game.

    SO NOW, what exactly was Magic better than Bird at anyways? It's arguable that it's his passing, but okay, is that it?

    Exactly, other than his highlight passes, Magic wasn't better then Bird at anything. He even says himself that Larry Bird was the one man that Magic forever legitimately FEARED on the basketball court, Bird gave him goosebumps, it was always scary when he gets the ball.

    Look at the stats if you think I'm being biased. I f*king watched basketball before any of you were born. I've invested money into the game.I know what I'm talking about.

    I love Magic, but Bird is better in so many more ways and can do so much more for you. Everything you see Magic do, Bird can do better. (again, probably other than his passes, but even those are arguable)

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