Larry Bird and Earvin (Magic) Johnson were a joy to watch over the
last 14 years (The Two and Only, Dec. 14). They brought
unselfishness, enthusiasm and an unbelievable work ethic to the game
of basketball. It's nice to see these two superstars, who came into
the NBA together, go out together, but I wish they could have left
under different circumstances.
Here are their cumulative stats for the 37 pro games and one
college game they played against each other:
Points 889 806
Average 23.39 21.21
Assists 201 469
Average 5.29 12.34
Rebounds 410 276
Average 10.79 7.26
Wins 15 23
ALAN J. KAUFMAN
I don't mean to rain on anybody's parade, because the Bird-Magic
matchups were wonderful, but I detect a creeping amnesia here. Before
Bird's Celtics ever played an NBA playoff game against Johnson's
Lakers, the ultimate NBA matchup was Boston versus Philadelphia,
Larry Bird versus Julius Erving. They played the same position,
guarded each other 40 minutes a game and faced each other 47 times in
regular-season and playoff games before the first Boston-L.A. final
of the Bird-Magic era, in 1984.
Most Celtic and Sixer fans know that the NBA Finals in those years
were anticlimactic compared with the almost unbearable intensity of
those three Boston-Philly Eastern Conference finals, in 1980, '81 and
'82. Bird has said that the most emotional game of his career was
Boston's one-point win over the Sixers in the seventh game of the
1981 Eastern Conference finals. Bird and Magic were unforgettable.
However, the greatest NBA rivalry of the last 20 years was Bird's
Celtics versus Erving's 76ers.
Harveys Lake, Pa.