1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson

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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#21 » by r0drig0lac » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:55 pm

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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#22 » by oldncreaky » Tue Oct 13, 2020 6:42 pm

From the perspective of a Piston's fan who went to every Piston's home playoff game in the 1980's, including the Celtics (1985, 1987, 1988) and Lakers (1988, 1989) and watched every NBA game broadcast in the Detroit market . . .

Larry had the higher peaks, particularly 1986, but was plagued by injuries and done as a top-5 player by 1988. Magic was more productive, more consistent, and was a top-5 player from his first month until the retirement due to HIV.

I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the Lakers making more finals appearances because the East was soooo much better in the 80's. In my ranking of teams from the 1980's, the Lakers might be the best, but the Celtics, Bucks, Sixers and Pistons had a better decade than any other Western conference team.

For those of you talking about their defense, please stop. Neither was among the top 3 defenders on their own team! On the Celtics DJ, McHale, and Parish were better defenders for the era. For the Lakers, Worthy, Cooper, AC Green, Scott and Thompson were all better defenders than Magic. As a Pistons fan, Magic and Bird were both juicy targets on defence by the time the Pistons played them in the playoffs.

All that said, I'd take Magic, but it is so very, very close
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#23 » by No-more-rings » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:24 pm

I'd be inclined to say Bird for regular season(slightly) and Magic for playoffs(comfortably). So Magic overall.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#24 » by DQuinn1575 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:01 pm

1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#25 » by 70sFan » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:40 pm

DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.

I think it's very arguable who was better in 1985 season and there isn't much of a case for Bird over Magic in 1988.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#26 » by therealbig3 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:00 am

70sFan wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.

I think it's very arguable who was better in 1985 season and there isn't much of a case for Bird over Magic in 1988.


I mean, Bird broke down by the playoffs in 88, which is why it's knocked down a peg, but before the injuries caught up to him, he was having one of the best years of his career, and actually finished ahead of Magic in MVP voting that year. Only reason Bird doesn't have a case over Magic in 88 is because of injuries, not because he wasn't as good or better when healthy.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#27 » by DQuinn1575 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:17 am

70sFan wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.

I think it's very arguable who was better in 1985 season and there isn't much of a case for Bird over Magic in 1988.


The case in 1988 would start with Bird finishing ahead of Magic in the MVP voting. We can add a lead in win shares, VORP, BPM, WS/48, PER, TS% - I think that makes a case.

I think Bird was better in 1985, the basis is eye test and opinions of others at he time, but looking at the same advanced stats above it looks like Bird again was ahead in all the categories.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#28 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:35 am

therealbig3 wrote:
70sFan wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.

I think it's very arguable who was better in 1985 season and there isn't much of a case for Bird over Magic in 1988.


I mean, Bird broke down by the playoffs in 88, which is why it's knocked down a peg, but before the injuries caught up to him, he was having one of the best years of his career, and actually finished ahead of Magic in MVP voting that year. Only reason Bird doesn't have a case over Magic in 88 is because of injuries, not because he wasn't as good or better when healthy.

Sure, but injuries matter. Look how much better Magic was against the Pistons and it's not like he had better team either.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#29 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:38 am

DQuinn1575 wrote:
70sFan wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.

I think it's very arguable who was better in 1985 season and there isn't much of a case for Bird over Magic in 1988.


The case in 1988 would start with Bird finishing ahead of Magic in the MVP voting. We can add a lead in win shares, VORP, BPM, WS/48, PER, TS% - I think that makes a case.

I think Bird was better in 1985, the basis is eye test and opinions of others at he time, but looking at the same advanced stats above it looks like Bird again was ahead in all the categories.

If you want to exclude playoffs, then maybe Bird has a case but Magic outplayed him in both years (once h2h). I know, Bird got injured - that's why he has no case here.

Besides, I think that people vastly underrate Magic's 1987-90 regular seasons compared to Bird's 1985-88. I don't see any reason to say that healthy Bird was clearly better than 1990 Magic for example.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#30 » by Odinn21 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:40 am

70sFan wrote:Sure, but injuries matter. Look how much better Magic was against the Pistons and it's not like he had better team either.

Surely Bird's performance against the Pistons in 1988 was bad. But the Celtics definitely had the worse team. No contest. They were old and broken starting 5 + Paxson and that's all. The depth of the Lakers and their overall quality was far better.
Just look at the Celtics rotation in that series, then the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers had far better and well-rounded rotation.

I think you're giving too much credit to the Celtics name if you put them on the same level as the Lakers.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#31 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:10 am

Odinn21 wrote:
70sFan wrote:Sure, but injuries matter. Look how much better Magic was against the Pistons and it's not like he had better team either.

Surely Bird's performance against the Pistons in 1988 was bad. But the Celtics definitely had the worse team. No contest. They were old and broken starting 5 + Paxson and that's all. The depth of the Lakers and their overall quality was far better.
Just look at the Celtics rotation in that series, then the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers had far better and well-rounded rotation.

I think you're giving too much credit to the Celtics name if you put them on the same level as the Lakers.

Well, I think it's on coach that Celtics played so many minutes with their starters. Their bench wasn't strong, but Lewis and Paxon should have got way more minutes. I'd argue that Gilmore could play a bit more, but he was washed up at thia point.

When you look at their teams without Bird and Magic it's much closer than you suggest:

McHale vs Worthy - McHale, just better player

Parish vs Kareem - Parish was more productive player, far better defensively and on the boards, comparable offensively

Ainge vs Scott - normally, I think they are on the same level but Ainge played terribly in Pistons series. Still, I don't see why I should call Scott much better player although he had better season.

DJ vs Cooper - I might prefer Cooper at thia point, Johnson was old and no longer elite defensively.

Lakers have better 6-8 guys with Green, Thompson and one of Matthews/Rambis vs Paxon, Lewis and Robers. In my view, Celtics had better starting lineup and Lakers had much better bench, but I think that Boston should have used their bench much more in playoffs. Playing all starting players 40+mpg (outside of Parish) made them tired and unable to play at usual level.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#32 » by Odinn21 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:20 am

70sFan wrote:
Odinn21 wrote:
70sFan wrote:Sure, but injuries matter. Look how much better Magic was against the Pistons and it's not like he had better team either.

Surely Bird's performance against the Pistons in 1988 was bad. But the Celtics definitely had the worse team. No contest. They were old and broken starting 5 + Paxson and that's all. The depth of the Lakers and their overall quality was far better.
Just look at the Celtics rotation in that series, then the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers had far better and well-rounded rotation.

I think you're giving too much credit to the Celtics name if you put them on the same level as the Lakers.

Well, I think it's on coach that Celtics played so many minutes with their starters. Their bench wasn't strong, but Lewis and Paxon should have got way more minutes. I'd argue that Gilmore could play a bit more, but he was washed up at this point.

When you look at their teams without Bird and Magic it's much closer than you suggest:

McHale vs Worthy - McHale, just better player

Parish vs Kareem - Parish was more productive player, far better defensively and on the boards, comparable offensively

Ainge vs Scott - normally, I think they are on the same level but Ainge played terribly in Pistons series. Still, I don't see why I should call Scott much better player although he had better season.

DJ vs Cooper - I might prefer Cooper at this point, Johnson was old and no longer elite defensively.

Lakers have better 6-8 guys with Green, Thompson and one of Matthews/Rambis vs Paxon, Lewis and Robers. In my view, Celtics had better starting lineup and Lakers had much better bench, but I think that Boston should have used their bench much more in playoffs. Playing all starting players 40+mpg (outside of Parish) made them tired and unable to play at usual level.

They had to play their starting 5 that much because the bench was giving them nothing. Wish we had +/- numbers for those seasons. The bench was terrible. Had been like that since 1986-87 season and they had to overplay their starting 5, and that was the better option for them. K.C. Jones playing Jim Paxson more wouldn't do any good. In '88 playoffs, the dude scored 3.3 ppg on .288 fg .369 ts in 12.5 minutes per game. The lad had subpar 2 ppg on .250 ts against the Pistons. Why would anyone play that player more? This was their 6th man BTW. Not 8th or 9th man on the rotation.

What I said was the Celtics without Bird and the Lakers without Magic were not on the same level in 1988. I didn't suggest the Celtics were like 2003 Magic or something.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#33 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:49 am

Odinn21 wrote:
70sFan wrote:
Odinn21 wrote:Surely Bird's performance against the Pistons in 1988 was bad. But the Celtics definitely had the worse team. No contest. They were old and broken starting 5 + Paxson and that's all. The depth of the Lakers and their overall quality was far better.
Just look at the Celtics rotation in that series, then the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers had far better and well-rounded rotation.

I think you're giving too much credit to the Celtics name if you put them on the same level as the Lakers.

Well, I think it's on coach that Celtics played so many minutes with their starters. Their bench wasn't strong, but Lewis and Paxon should have got way more minutes. I'd argue that Gilmore could play a bit more, but he was washed up at this point.

When you look at their teams without Bird and Magic it's much closer than you suggest:

McHale vs Worthy - McHale, just better player

Parish vs Kareem - Parish was more productive player, far better defensively and on the boards, comparable offensively

Ainge vs Scott - normally, I think they are on the same level but Ainge played terribly in Pistons series. Still, I don't see why I should call Scott much better player although he had better season.

DJ vs Cooper - I might prefer Cooper at this point, Johnson was old and no longer elite defensively.

Lakers have better 6-8 guys with Green, Thompson and one of Matthews/Rambis vs Paxon, Lewis and Robers. In my view, Celtics had better starting lineup and Lakers had much better bench, but I think that Boston should have used their bench much more in playoffs. Playing all starting players 40+mpg (outside of Parish) made them tired and unable to play at usual level.

They had to play their starting 5 that much because the bench was giving them nothing. Wish we had +/- numbers for those seasons. The bench was terrible. Had been like that since 1986-87 season and they had to overplay their starting 5, and that was the better option for them. K.C. Jones playing Jim Paxson more wouldn't do any good. In '88 playoffs, the dude scored 3.3 ppg on .288 fg .369 ts in 12.5 minutes per game. The lad had subpar 2 ppg on .250 ts against the Pistons. Why would anyone play that player more? This was their 6th man BTW. Not 8th or 9th man on the rotation.

What I said was the Celtics without Bird and the Lakers without Magic were not on the same level in 1988. I didn't suggest the Celtics were like 2003 Magic or something.

Jim Paxson was good basketball player, you can see it before Celtics trade in Portland. He didn't produce anything but that's because Celtics didn't give him any role on offense outside of occasional catch and shoot. Paxson wasn't just a catch and shoot player, he could play DJ role on offense instead of being worse version of Ainge.

Celtics didn't have to play DJ and Ainge 40 mpg and rely on bigs doing everything, Paxson wasn't star but he could be decent creator off the bench. KC Jones never gave him the chance to do that.

For such a bad team, Celtics did quite well without Bird in the next season. Basically all they did is replace Bird with Lewis (who improved to be fair, but he got the chance to do so). Of course they were much worse, but they were still a playoff team.

Celtics lacked one good bench player (like Cooper in Lakers) but their starting five was better than Lakers. I think the biggest difference is that Riley was much better coach than KC Jones. Another thing strictly related to Pistons series is Bird vs Magic debate. I think that Magic could have beaten Pistons with Celtics roster in that year. Bird himself did that the year before because he played much better.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#34 » by DQuinn1575 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:30 pm

70sFan wrote:
Odinn21 wrote:
70sFan wrote:Sure, but injuries matter. Look how much better Magic was against the Pistons and it's not like he had better team either.

Surely Bird's performance against the Pistons in 1988 was bad. But the Celtics definitely had the worse team. No contest. They were old and broken starting 5 + Paxson and that's all. The depth of the Lakers and their overall quality was far better.
Just look at the Celtics rotation in that series, then the Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers had far better and well-rounded rotation.
M
I think you're giving too much credit to the Celtics name if you put them on the same level as the Lakers.

Well, I think it's on coach that Celtics played so many minutes with their starters. Their bench wasn't strong, but Lewis and Paxon should have got way more minutes. I'd argue that Gilmore could play a bit more, but he was washed up at thia point.

When you look at their teams without Bird and Magic it's much closer than you suggest:

McHale vs Worthy - McHale, just better player

Parish vs Kareem - Parish was more productive player, far better defensively and on the boards, comparable offensively

Ainge vs Scott - normally, I think they are on the same level but Ainge played terribly in Pistons series. Still, I don't see why I should call Scott much better player although he had better season.

DJ vs Cooper - I might prefer Cooper at thia point, Johnson was old and no longer elite defensively.

Lakers have better 6-8 guys with Green, Thompson and one of Matthews/Rambis vs Paxon, Lewis and Robers. In my view, Celtics had better starting lineup and Lakers had much better bench, but I think that Boston should have used their bench much more in playoffs. Playing all starting players 40+mpg (outside of Parish) made them tired and unable to play at usual level.


Hindsight is 20/20 - Lewis played 405 minutes total regular season. I guess people were still underestimating a guy from a smaller school who didnt start in high school. Celtics bench in order of minutes played - 1988
Acres
Roberts
Minniefield
Lohaus
Darren Daye

That no way compares to what the Pistons put out there - Johnson, Edwards, Salley, Rodman - Pistons had 4 better players on bench than Celtics.
Lakers had Thompson and Cooper, which gave them a real solid Top 7 - their 7th man was 1st team All-Defense, and DPOY the year before. Your 6th man was good enough to start 2 years later on a 63 win team at the age of 35.

The Lakers and Pistons were basically even in 1988, the Celtics wound up a little behind in the playoffs, only McHale shot well. Maybe a bench like the Lakers or Pistons had would have made a difference, but that's irrelevant - they wound up a Definite 3rd.
So yes, Magic wins post season over Bird, Bird wins regular season. There is ability and achievement, and Magic achieved more in 1987 and 1988 than Bird, but I think ability was pretty similar.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#35 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:51 pm

DQuinn1575 wrote:Your 6th man was good enough to start 2 years later on a 63 win team at the age of 35.


I agree with your overall point, but this doesn't prove anything. Thompson wasn't good in 1990 and Lakers were far better either with Divac on the court or playing small ball with Green at 5. The only thing that Thomspon gave Lakers is solid post defense, but offensively he was just bad and defensively he didn't protect the rim and wasn't quick enough to help on perimeter. I know that playing with Magic could do wonders, but I was shocked that Thompson was at 50% FG in that season.

I watched a lot of 1990 Lakers games recently to make this video:



To give him credit, Thompson was much better in 1988 than he was in 1990.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#36 » by Odinn21 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:55 pm

70sFan wrote:Jim Paxson was good basketball player, you can see it before Celtics trade in Portland. He didn't produce anything but that's because Celtics didn't give him any role on offense outside of occasional catch and shoot. Paxson wasn't just a catch and shoot player, he could play DJ role on offense instead of being worse version of Ainge.

Celtics didn't have to play DJ and Ainge 40 mpg and rely on bigs doing everything, Paxson wasn't star but he could be decent creator off the bench. KC Jones never gave him the chance to do that.

For such a bad team, Celtics did quite well without Bird in the next season. Basically all they did is replace Bird with Lewis (who improved to be fair, but he got the chance to do so). Of course they were much worse, but they were still a playoff team.

Celtics lacked one good bench player (like Cooper in Lakers) but their starting five was better than Lakers. I think the biggest difference is that Riley was much better coach than KC Jones. Another thing strictly related to Pistons series is Bird vs Magic debate. I think that Magic could have beaten Pistons with Celtics roster in that year. Bird himself did that the year before because he played much better.

Jim Paxson was a 19.2 mpg 8.7 ppg on .560 ts player in the regular season for the Celtics and 12.5 mpg 3.3 ppg on .369 ts player in the playoffs.
It wasn't like K.C. Jones lowered his minutes out of the blue. Paxson played bad. 19.2 mpg in the regular season isn't far away from what he was having in Portland in the season before (25.0 mpg). Wrong utilization is not the only reason for that massive drop even if there were a wrong utilization.

Brian Shaw was a massive boost in the next season. Reggie Lewis made a pretty big jump as well. The team massively improved in the areas that I'm saying they lacked in '88, and you're saying they were '88 Lakers level good because they improved in '89? Come on now.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#37 » by Warspite » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:51 pm

I dont understand the validity of playoff stats in those years in this comparison. Most years the #8 seed in the east was on par with the #2 or3 seed in the west. the level of defense and over all play in the east in those years was as superior to the west as the west was over the east in 99-03
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#38 » by Hal14 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:47 pm

DQuinn1575 wrote:1984-1988 Off Rating for Team

LAL/BOS

84 110.9 /110.9
85 114.1 / 112.8
86 113.3 /111.8
87 115.6 / 113.5
88 113.1 /115.4

which averages to 113.4 for LA, but a not too shabby 112.9 for Boston

The thing people are ignoring is that Bird joined a poor team and took them to contention. Magic joined a team who at the time had maybe the greatest player of all-time. And Magic was maybe the greatest teammate of all-time. The 80s became an arms race with the team adding Ainge, Walton, Worthy, Scott, to loaded rosters. The Sixers added Moses, but couldn't keep up. In 87 the Lakers added Thompson and the Celtics lost their bench and surpassed them.

Bird was always better than Magic thru 86, and they were probably equals in 87 and 88. Magic obviously passed him, but mostly because Bird slowed down. I think Bird peaked in 84-86, and was better than Magic, and then Magic tied Bird when Magic peaked and Bird lost just a little. And that's how I call them, Bird by just a little.


Agreed for the most part, but keep in mind it wasn't necessarily that Bird "slowed down" it's that he suffered an insanely serious back injury and needed surgery which sidelined him for virtually the entire 88-89 season. Magic simply was lucky in that he played 12 straight seasons without major injury.

Of course, some might argue it was Bird's fault he injured his back because he chose to pave his mom's driveway. My take? It was a different time back then. Guys played hurt, they played through pain, they didn't sit out if they got a cramp. And as Bird said "why would I pay someone to do a job that I could do myself?" He was a proud man, so he paved the driveway himself. Obviously it ended up hurting his career in the long run. But it didn't really start affecting Bird's play in a negative way until the 88-89 season. This thread is only asking about Bird from 84-88..you could make a strong argument that was the best 4 year stretch any player ever had. I don't think you can say that about Magic from 86-90.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#39 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:52 pm

Hal14 wrote:This thread is only asking about Bird from 84-88..you could make a strong argument that was the best 4 year stretch any player ever had. I don't think you can say that about Magic from 86-90.

I don't think you could to be honest, at least not any more compeling argument that for Magic.
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Re: 1984-88 Larry Bird vs 1986-90 Magic Johnson 

Post#40 » by SNPA » Thu Oct 15, 2020 6:03 am

70sFan wrote:
Hal14 wrote:This thread is only asking about Bird from 84-88..you could make a strong argument that was the best 4 year stretch any player ever had. I don't think you can say that about Magic from 86-90.

I don't think you could to be honest, at least not any more compeling argument that for Magic.

Let’s set defense aside for a moment. For every great Magic pass you can show me I can show you a great Bird pass. Magic is higher volume but he was a PG so he had damn well better be. Outside of a pass Bird can crush a team anywhere on the floor with his shooting and he can get second chance points through boards. He was always and everywhere a danger, he was great and didn’t even need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Magic needs the ball, Jordan -to a lesser extant but more than Bird- needed the ball. Bird is the lone non-Center that was top ten great and didn’t even need the ball to do it. That’s next level IMO. I find it more impressive to dominate the game that way. I wish Dallas would use Luka off ball more to grow his skills.

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