Imagine if Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were still active players in the NBA today.

While Magic Johnson and Larry Bird accepted their Lifetime Achievement Awards at the NBA Awards, the league speculated on the influence each would have had if they were still active.


The longstanding competitors (and close friends) received recognition on Monday night at the NBA Awards presentation in Santa Monica, California, for their accomplishments to basketball.


The NBA was revitalized and brought to international attention by the Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers rivalry in the 1980s, which featured Bird and Johnson as the headliners.

Including a seven-game series victory in the 1984 Finals, Bird’s Celtics won three titles during the decade. Johnson led the ‘Showtime’ Lakers to five titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988), including two victories over Boston in the Finals.

Shaquille O’Neal, the ceremony’s host, opened a video vignette picturing the influence Bird and Johnson would have if they were still playing today, before the two got their trophies.

Bird challenged the gifted athletes of today to preserve the game’s traditions so that it will live on for future generations, saying the NBA is in excellent hands with them. Johnson honored Dr. Jerry Buss, the late Lakers owner who had drafted him in 1979.

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