Jerry West once said, “He’s a genius on the basketball floor,” suggesting that young players model their style after Larry Bird rather than Magic.

The Los Angeles Lakers would have been more dominant under Larry Bird, according to one unidentified NBA coach.


Even though they played different positions and had different playing styles, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were frequently compared during their playing careers. Even though Bird only had three championships to Magic’s five, most people believed that Magic was the significantly stronger player—at least in their first Finals matchup. Bird is from Indiana. And even Jerry West, the coach of the Boston Celtics, agreed with this statement.


West advocated for kids to follow Bird rather than Magic.

The first time Bird and Magic faced off on the greatest stage in the league was during the 1984 NBA Finals. In spite of falling behind twice in the series, the Celtics prevailed in Game 7 to equalize the score and win the title.


Bird outperformed Magic throughout the series, averaging 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game, while Johnson finished with a team-high 31 turnovers but still managed to score 18.0 points, dish out 13.6 assists, and swipe 2.0 steals a game.

After ‘The Hick from French Lick’ defeated his fiercest rival 1-0, coach Fitch—who was then with the Houston Rockets—argued that although players like Oscar Robertson and West were better pass-first guards than Magic, there was no forward that could match Bird’s skill.


“They’re both great players, but it’s harder to find a Larry Bird than a Magic Johnson,” Fitch stated. “Doing what Magic does at guard is easier than doing what Larry does at forward. There aren’t many players better than Bird, but I still think West and Robertson were superior to Magic.”

Not just one former Celtics employee, but even Lakers veteran Mr. Clutch expressed his preference for Bird over Magic, saying that he would rather young players take cues from Larry’s style of play than from Johnson’s.


“The one that best approaches the kind of game I would recommend a young player model himself after is Bird,” West stated. “He’s a genius on the basketball floor.”


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