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Magic agrees with Jordan: 'That's not what we were about'

Jul 20, 2010, 11:20 PM EDT

magic-johnson.jpgTimes are different.

LeBron is teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Michael Jordan said the other day he wouldn’t have done that, he wanted to beat Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, not partner with them. Not everyone — including our own Ira Winderman — buys that.

But Magic Johnson said he agrees with Jordan.

“We didn’t think about it ’cause that’s not what we were about,” Johnson said at Baruch College in New York, according to Bloomberg News. “From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird.”

Let’s also be fair here — Magic didn’t have to.

He was drafted onto a team with Kareem Abdul Jabbar near the peak of his powers, one of the greatest centers and offensive weapons ever to play the game. That team also had sharp-shooter Jamaal Wilkes, Norm Nixon and Michael Cooper among others. Pretty soon the Lakers added guys like Bob McAdoo and a few years later drafted James Worthy (thanks to a steal of a trade).

Magic didn’t need to join forces, he was drafted into a powerhouse lineup. Bird had McHale and Parrish. Jordan was not alone — Scotty Pippen and a host of perfectly complimentary role players.

Nobody wins a title alone. You can debate if you want whether LeBron should have waited in Cleveland for them to build a roster around him, but nobody — not Magic or Bird or Jordan — would have won a title with the rosters LeBron has had.

231 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Mobtown - Jul 21, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Nobody wins a title alone. You can debate if you want whether LeBron should have waited in Cleveland for them to build a roster around him, but nobody — not Magic or Bird or Jordan — would have won a title with the rosters LeBron has had
    The Cavs had the best regular season record. Lebron lobbied to get Jamison. He had two centers over 7 ft. tall who were both capable, in fact, he invited one of them to Miami. Hickson and Varajho are both young talents. He had three point shooters on his wing and at his point.
    They had the largest regular season point differential two years ago, and they were second this year.
    It’s not like Lebron was playing on the Timberwolves. He lobbied to get players around him, including Shaq, Jamison, and Williams. Those were players he chose. Players he couldn’t get were Redd and Stodemire.
    Are you guys going to keep stroking his ego to keep Nike stock high when he fails to win a championship this year because he spoiled the city of Miami with his regular season play?

  2. terry - Jul 21, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    When Jerry Krause arrived in Chicago in 1986 or so they had MJ and just about no one else. In 1991 they won the first of 6 championships over the next 8 years. Other than MJ Jerry Krause was responsible for bringing every one of the players and coaches on those 6 Chicago NBA championship teams to Chicago. The point? You build a team around your best player, no matter what position he plays.
    (Starting about 2 years ago) Riley made his plans to get the best players he could get to compliment Wade, and it worked. Personally I can’t stand the guy but he ain’t losing any sleep over that and you have to give him credit.
    Now – here’s hoping it doesn’t work.

  3. seriously? - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Seriously?!! I mean really!!! Are you seriously suggesting that Lebron is on the same level as Jordan? That is either the funniest, or the most ignorant statement I’ve heard in a long time!!! I don’t really care if Lebron wants to play with his buddies, that is his decision. I would have to agree with Jordan/Magic on the competiveness issue, though. But there is no valid argument for putting Lebron on the same level as Jordan!!! Let’s be real!!!!

  4. JJ Jones - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Easy thing to say coming from someone who was surrounded by Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and James Worthy.

  5. Wow - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    Magic, Bird, or Jordan could not win the title with the best team in the league? Really? Lebron had the title in his back pocket. All he had to do was play the game. He gave up and it’s hard to win games when it’s 5 on 4.

  6. JThom - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    I respect both Jordan and Magic, but they failed to openly admit that their perspective teams/organizations actively created the “super teams” of their time in the NBA.
    In James’ case, he as a player, was active in the creation of a super team. No Jordan & Magic wouldn’t have called each other up b/c their team was trying to find ways for them to defeat each other.
    If Jordan or Magic wasn’t winning Championships with the Bulls & Lakers; and still became superstar players, they would’ve been looking to join some other team that had high-level players that could get them closer to an NBA ring. Those two were fortunate to have been members on team/organizations (owners, GMs, coaches) that were conscious of the weaknesses of other teams in their conference.

  7. sean - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    This comment obviously points to you being a kid. Lebron is great, no argument there. But greatest of all time? Lay off the drugs. Until Lebron has a “flu game”, until he has six rings, hell, until he has at least one ring (the Miami experiment is not guaranteed if the Heat can’t get a good team of role players), until his jersey number is retired, Lebron doesn’t even come close to MJ. Or even Magic. Either one of them could have won with the team the Cavs gave LBJ in the past two seasons. Michael beat everybody. Magic beat AIDS. Lebron has yet to beat anyone come Finals time. So how about we curb our fanboy enthusiasm and hold off on the G.O.A.T. statements until LBJ actually does something memorable enough to go down in NBA history (something other than teaming up 3 of the top 5 players in the league to try and buy a ring).

  8. BWHAHAHA!!! - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Evryone says supr teams. I just hop ethat LBJ knows that he is no the superstar. Like you say, bring the people in around the player. So Riley brought in Bosh and James around the superstar, Wade.

  9. jokes - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Oh please dont even mention queen lebron to the greatest of all time michael jordan,

  10. E.P - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    You’ve got to be kidding me – Lebron’s team won 60+ games the last two years – Jordan could have won with that team because he would have raised his and their level of play in the playoffs!

  11. jokes - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    lebron could of kept his dignity and still would of left the door opened of talked of him being as one of the greatest if he had chosen Chicago,so he chose Miami,wow,he loses his dignity nobody likes him now for choosing to be wades 2nd fittle,shame on u,we thought u were bad,what a mistake that was,your small time thats why u went to miami,could of gone bigtime in Chicago, never seen a so called star lose it so quickly,wow

  12. Donny - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Yeah, he’s sooooo much better than Pippen.
    Pippen – 6 rings
    LeBron – 0 rings

  13. Angela - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Are you kidding me? Lebron James the best player in history, what a joke he doesnt even come close to Kobe Bryant.

  14. OverseasHoosier - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Let’s correct a severely flawed statement in the article.
    Bird didn’t join a great team. The Celtics were 29–53 during the 1978–79 season, but with Bird joining them the team improved to 61–21 in the 1979–80 season, posting the league’s best regular season record. That turning-it-around record remained his for years.

  15. ocgunslinger - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    It is so funny to read the comments about Kobe being selfish. Funny because it is not selfish to have the guts and willingness to take the shot with the game on the line. Many don’t, won’t or can’t. Seems to me Jordan, Magic, Bird all had that same “Selfish” trait. Lebron is a great individual player beyond doubt. He is not yet “The Man” let alone the self proclaimed King. He may never fill that roll because Wade also has that Selfish instinct of being willing to take the shot nobody else will step up to take. Miami should win a title (maybe 2) in the next 5 years but don’t be surprised if Wade is the finals MVP. If Wade is injured… rings in Miami.

  16. Peter - Jul 21, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Kurt you’re right that Jabbar was already in L.A. but Larry didn’t have McHale, Parish or DJ. His first ring was with an old Nate Archibald and Cornbread Maxwell. Larry waited, Michael waited and Magic got additional help. Let’s not forget Jabbar was in his early 30’s when Magic got there.
    Plus none of them called themselves the self “The King” as LeBron has. He never backed away when people were calling him the Chosen One and put him in the category of Magic, Bird and Michael.
    He accepted being the man and now that he, and nobody else, put himself more Robin than Batman he’s received some backlash. He’s Jeter’s A-Rod. The above mentioned included him in their exclusive club, now he is not.

  17. Jangocat - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Oh please, you Lebron apologists are nauseating. Now your at the point where you completely dismiss the opinion of two of the greatest players in NBA history? The fact of the matter is LeBron had incredible teams the last two years and came up real small. Jordan or Johnson would have easily won titles with those teams. These two hall of famers made everyone around them better and elevated their play during the playoffs. LeBron does not make his teammates better just like AI never did. And he chokes during the playoffs. So please stop making excuses for him and stop comparing him to hall of famers who he is no where near as good as.

  18. Matt - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Michael, Magic or Larry would have never quit in the playoffs like Lebron did. Who knows if they would have ever won with the 2010 Cavs but we do know that none of them would have rolled over like Lebron did.

  19. Cire - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    These old farts only want to protect their legacies. Both Magic and Michael had strong TEAMS when they won their rings. So, yeah, Magic wanted to beat Larry and so did Michael. Big whoop – they had the teammates to do it. That’s why their comments ring false. Michael in particular had to wait until he got some help for him to get his first ring. So now we have LeBron and DWade together. Doesn’t mean that they don’t want to beat the best. And the best now is Kobe and co. And let’s not leave out the Celtics, the Magic and the Bulls, 3 very good teams. And there are more out there – Denver, Dallas, etc., etc., So cut the crap. We’ll see what happens.

  20. Topcrust - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    The lakers did the same thing in 2003 when they added Gary Payton and Karl Malone. That team was loaded but how did the season end? Lakers lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs to San Antonio who won the Championship. Good luck Heat but i’ll be cheering against ya

  21. Headhonchoofhoops - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Just to clarify, during Bird’s senior year in college the Celtics starting lineup was Bob McAdoo, Cornbread Maxwell, Dave Cowens, Chris Ford, and Tiny Archibald. This team had the worst record in the NBA. Bird’s rookie year the starting lineup was Cornbread Maxwell, Dave Cowens, Chris Ford, Tiny Archibald and Bird. This team had the best record in the NBA. It was also Dave Cowens final season and his play was limited so Rick Robey often played for him. I dont want to take anything away from ML Carr, who was the only other key addition to the team but Bird alone turned a 29 win team into a 61 win team., the best record in the NBA. Parrish and McHale were not added until the next year when Bird led the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and was second in assists. Although he was the best 6th man in basketball, McHale was not a starter for 4 years. Bird and Magic were “team first” players and Jordan learned he couldn’t win until he allowed his teammates to grow and gain confidence in themselves. Do not disgrace the greatest small forward of all time and show basketball ignorance by comparing anything that Lebron does to Bird. Lebron is an incredible physical specimen but has the heart of a hummingbird which is probably why he left. He doesn’t want to truley compete. He is also vert typical of today’s “ME” first players. Even if he wins in Miami, the colusion will taint it like Barry Bonds home run record.

  22. X-man21 - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    I believe that Jordan and Magic are correct. Jordan did not inherit a super team they had to build around him. Jordan was patient, determined and willing to continue to keep himself compettive until they did. And thats why in my opinion Jordan differs from LeBron. You also have to add Kobe into the mix because after Shaq left it took Kobe to publicly demand the Lakers (in the form of trade me) get him some help so they could win and the Lakers did. Now the Lakers are Kobe’s team and a power house. Lets be honest LeBron walked away for personal selfish reasons I want to win now because Kobe is winning now. I was disappointed when he signed with Miami because I always thought he was a great player and leader. But now I think he’s just another great player not a leader. He was a god in Cleveland and if he had not won a championship they still would have worshipped him. BTW I think with the firing of Mike Brown and the hiring of Byran Scott he would have had his first ring in 2 years and Cleveland would have been a power house for years to come. Also take this with you great players to go to play with other people they come to play with them. Thats what happened with Magic, Bird, Jordan and Kobe and their NBA status is cemented in history for ever as great leaders of franchises.

  23. Pete - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Also remember that Jordan played for a fraction of his market value just so Jerry Krause could get the role players that helped deliver SIX championships to Chicago. He didn’t just grab the big check and wait for management to print more money to fill out the team.

  24. jeremy - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    labron is a GOOD different than karl malone, charles barkley, ewing,kemp,grant hill,vince carter,iverson,steve nash,dirk and every other REGULAR SEASON PLAYER who cant do it in the playoffs.he needs to be somebodies pippen cause he sure as hell aint jordan. he suuuure as hell aint kobe!HE HAS NO HEART IN THE PLAYOFFS!even worse no mid range game at all,none.

  25. Bob - Jul 21, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    The whole idea behind the “Superstar” is the ability to make the players around you better–that’s what they do. Keep in mind, there’s only one ball and someone will get snubbed when it’s time to take the last minute shot in Miami. In Chicago, when there was a clutch shot to be taken, you knew MJ was the man. In Boston you knew Larry was the man. In LA you knew Magic was the man. Let’s see what happens in Miami. Someone’s ego will be damaged. All the hype and hoopla is all well and good now, but when the season gets underway, it’s a different story.

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