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Magic Johnson fires back at LeBron for not having him in top three

Aug 22, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT

Magic Johnson Getty Images

Michael Jordan, Dr. J and Larry Bird.

When LeBron James was asked to name the three best players of all time, he hemmed and hawed then went with this combination. Which is pretty good. But a list of just three is going to leave some guys off — Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and one Magic Johnson.

It was Johnson who fired back at LeBron on twitter saying he should be on the list.

I hate the “rings are all that matter” argument, because then Russell and his 11 should be at the front of the list. Basketball is still a team sport and while lifting your teammates up should be part of the criteria I don’t know that some great players (Karl Malone, Jerry West) should be penalized for playing in the era of other, greater teams that limited the ring count. Focusing only on the end goal and not the journey is a mistake.

That said, Magic was in my top three (with Jordan and Kareem). Magic was transcendent and a guy who just shattered the mold. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

135 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. 1historian - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    This is all so Shakespearean – Much Ado About Nothing

  2. rumar1989 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    2bemoore43, that was really a stupid comment that you have made. Sure Russell played in a era, where the world wasn’t together. But for you to say that black uppity comment, and that’s how whites wanted their negroes to behave, you’re way off base their, with your statements. You want to talk about wanting someone to behave good, during that era the whole world was waiting for whites at that time, to behave better and get along with blacks. They were the ones that were complicating things, and that’s why Dr. King changed this nation and brought everyone together. I believe in diversity, how about you, which i doubt. If you don’t, then you need serious evaluation and learn how to use proper words, not say stupid words like you did.

  3. rumar1989 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Justaride88, Well it was an era where Bill, and others of his race didn’t have equal rights at that point in time. But as far as what he’s done on the court, that will be his legacy forever and will be remembered as his career life. But i did find it botherism, that you would add that racial background thing, while talking about his basketball career. I question your racial motive their, that’s not good on your part.

  4. MyTeamsAllStink - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Where’s Manute Bol?This list is a farce

  5. boobcok - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    If magic wants to count rings then he should mention that Kareem and Worthy were the mvps
    for two of the rings he’s taken credit for.

    Magic landed on a stacked team that had the reigning mvp and later got even better by drafting worthy and it took him 12 years to garner his 5.

    LeBron had been on a stacked team for 3 years, has been in the finals for each of them and has won both of his championship teams mvps

    You don’t hear magic talking about league mvps because LeBron is part of an even more elite group than both he and Jordan.

    Only Bill Russell and LeBron have ever won 4mvps in a 5 year span.

    • kman002 - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:21 AM

      Magic I would like to agree with you but not for the reason that any other person on this blog has stated. The stat that stands out as making you not only one of the 3 greatest players of all time but as the greatest of all time is that you have won 5 rings and played in 9 finals. Folks need to do their homework! 1st ring as a rookie… Finals MVP

    • xeno75 - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      MVP is voted by media people from a pool of active players. So if competition isn’t that great or you are a hyped player like LeBron, you will get more awards than you maybe deserve. Shaq should have won tha award every year in his prime but he didn’ because media people thought they should spread the awards because other greats should haveone too. Also media has become more and more stupid over time, so i wouldnt put too much into these vote based awards.

  6. gymtruthteller - Aug 23, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Magic didn’t win 5 titles. The Lakers won 5 titles. They win those without him. Celtics suck without Bird even with Mchale , DJ and Parrish.

    • sophie1150 - Aug 26, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      Well said. If it was up to individual talent, LeBron would have gotten 6-7 rings playing at Cleveland. This, How many rings did you win? Bunch of Jack Crap.

  7. pleasefirecam - Aug 23, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    Wilt towered Russell (physically) and Russell basically shut him down 90% of the time. Dude was a stud, Wilt dominated everyone else he faced. Please give Russell the respect and recognition he deserves. Jordan was incredible, but lets face it…he was the NBA poster boy and received a lot of calls from refs, that being said; Russell, Bird and Jordan (Magic was blessed with better supporting casts all those years)

  8. merletrutledge - Aug 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    This is how you know Magic Johnson and other players really loved the game and gave it there all while being on and off the court. They still compete and want to be the best, no matter what! They want to always been in the conversation of who was the best at their sport. This is really a compliment to all NBA players that really love the game than any critic.

  9. ephraimf - Aug 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    We can argue who are the best three all day, but more interesting is that Magic stooped to such a low level by even commenting like this. I lost some respect for Magic, I thought he was a bigger man than that.

  10. patrickhrfrd - Aug 24, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Magic is number one to me!!! What he did was never done before and hasn’t been done since. Lebron is no Magic Johnson, I’m sorry. Magic wasn’t as quick or atheletic as Lebron is, but he still got to the rim time and time again. He was a 6’9 true point guard that played every position. He was every bit the player Lebron is now, except Magic was that from day 1. He won a championship in his first year, and went to the finals nine times in thirteen seasons. Lebron is a media darling just like MJ was. Magic was the most unique player in history.

    • ephraimf - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:28 AM

      No problem with most of what you wrote, but on the point about winning the championship in his first year, please look at the rosters of that Laker team and Lebron’s Cavs. It’s like comparing a nuclear weapon to a spear.

    • bigirv1971 - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

      Quite an unfair comparison seeing that Magic went to a playoff team that already had Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, and Kareem. LeBron went to a lottery team that essentially had no one. If LeBron had gone to a playoff team instead of Cleveland, who knows how much more he could have done to the first season.

  11. jacksprat57 - Aug 24, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    MJ. Magic. LeBron.

    I would have loved to see what Phil might’ve done with Wilt, though. Or the young Kareem. Both men needed somebody to get inside of their heads, so as to make them come outside of themselves. KAJ got there, eventually, but he and Chamberlain carried those chips around for a lot of years. Worked for Jordan, sure, but he’s the exception that proves the rule. Most guys want to be loved. Mike just wanted to be feared.

    • videotoy - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Are we talking about chips or basketball? Sure, Chamberlain often refused to talk to sport writers but that had nothing to do with his greatness. Like, if you suck up to sports guys, we’ll rate you higher. Michael Jordan was kind to sports folks and that’s how he was often pushed as the greatest player ever. It is not how many chips you have on your shoulder, it’s how many balls you put in the basket and how many buckets you rebound.

  12. bigirv1971 - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    meant “in the first season.”

  13. bigirv1971 - Aug 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    What most people who say that “titles are all that matter” forget that every player that has won a title had great teammates around him. No man can win a title by himself. That is why it is a team sport. The careers of great players like Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and several others are not diminished because they did not win titles or never quite had the right personnel to do so.

    • xeno75 - Aug 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      The league is making a mistake in marketing Heroes like it does. People actualy believe players like LeBron play one on five and win beause they’re great.

  14. sportsnut101 - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Jordan wilt Russell magic bird
    After that it’s up for debate

    Lost respect for magic. Why does he care who Sumone else has in his top 3.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      Well he really respects LeBron but he probably was peeved because Bird is in there. If LeBron said something like Wilt, Dr. J and MJ I don’t think Magic would’ve commented. But you throw in Bird and not Magic… it got a little personal.

  15. videotoy - Aug 28, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I disagree with the idea that if you were on a team and the team won a championship, that made you one of the greatest players ever. Teams win games, not individuals. If you have better team mates, you are likely to prevail over another team with less talent. So, this idea of who has the most rings is just self serving. That said, my current ranking of the best NBA players ever is in this order:
    Wilt Chamberllain
    LeBron James
    Michael Jordan

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