Larry Bird and Magic Johnson rivalry began 42 years ago today.. A look back..

  • 27.03.2021 17:14:13

The Bird-Magic showdowns began in 1979 in the NCAA championship game

On March 26, 1979, when I was 8 years old, my uncle and my mom's cousin went to the Special Events Center on the campus of the University of Utah (my alma mater, woot!) to watch Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores battle Earvin "Magic" Johnson's Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA title game.

As a burgeoning college basketball fan then ... boy, wish I could have been there, you kind caring gents. Oh, well. Glad you were and wish you were still around, Scott. Miss ya during these days when it would have been nice to revisit.

Anyhow, the Bird-Magic rivalry started then, changed college basketball forever (read: March Madness, brackets, etc.), saved the NBA and eventually led to many epic Celtics-Lakers Finals, but also to a friendship, commercials and even playing as teammates on the 1992 gold-winning Olympic team. Oh, plus a Broadway play based on their careers.

Here are some good images from those years since 1979.


March 25, 1979: The night before Monday's anticipated championship game


March 26, 1979: Bird helps a fallen Magic from the floor


March 26, 1979: Magic smiles/complains at a ref after being called for a foul

March 26, 1979: Bird tries to make a pass after scrambling for the ball against Magic


March 26, 1979: Magic and the Spartans celebrate after beating Bird's Sycamores 75-64


Dec. 28, 1979: Magic's Lakers beat Bird's Celtics in their first NBA matchup


May 27, 1984: Magic knocks the ball away from Bird in the NBA Finals


 June 8, 1984: Magic defends Bird in the NBA Finals

June 12, 1987: Bird defends Magic in the NBA Finals


 Feb. 16, 1992: Bird speaks as part of Magic's jersey retirement ceremony

Jul 5, 1992: Bird and Magic share a moment after winning Olympic gold medals


 Sept. 27, 2002: Bird busts up Magic prior to Johnson's Hall of Fame induction ceremony

April 6, 2009: On the eve of Michigan State's championship final loss to North Carolina


 Nov. 22, 2009: Laughter as they are inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

April 11, 2012: 1992 Dream Teamers crack up during Magic's Hall of Fame induction


April 11, 2012: Curtian call after the opening night of Broadway play "Magic/Bird"


June 24, 2019: Samuel L. Jackson presents the NBA lifetime achievement awards


June 24, 2019: Accepting their lifetime achievement trophies at the NBA Awards


June 24, 2019: Rivalries don't last but friendships do


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