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THE TRUTH ABOUT MAGIC JOHNSON AND LARRY BIRD'S RELATIONSHIP
By BRIAN YOST
Prior to Michael Jordan's 1984 NBA debut, there were two young stars battling on the court in a fierce rivalry. On the east coast, Larry Bird was dominating with his silky-smooth shot for the Boston Celtics, and on the west, Earvin "Magic" Johnson was the star point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.
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In 1979, the NCAA National Championship was between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana State Sycamores. Led by star Larry Bird, Indiana State came in as the undefeated favorite but a young Magic Johnson sunk 24 points for his squad on the way to victory.
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Once in the NBA, "I was just dreaming about another chance that maybe I'd get to play against you," Bird recalled to Johnson. That matchup came true in 1984 when the Lakers went up against the Celtics in the NBA finals.
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Though the on-court battles made for an exhilarating rivalry, the two were quite friendly outside the game. The connection started when both players went to Johnson's hometown of French Lick, Indiana to shoot a commercial for the Converse sneaker brand.
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Both players of course stayed fiercely competitive against each other as players but even in the worst times, Johnson felt he could trust Bird. This was especially true after Johnson tested positive for HIV in 1991 and decided to call Bird to break the news.
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