Michael Jordan Never Viewed Himself As Better Player Than Magic Johnson, Larry Bird: ‘I Don’t Put Myself Above Them’

Michael JordanMagic Johnson and Larry Bird are three of the best players in NBA history.

Each superstar won multiple championships, regular-season MVPs and Finals MVPs and got inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

NBA, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird
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Since Jordan won the most rings, regular-season MVPs, Finals MVPs and scoring titles out of the trio, he is widely regarded as the best player.

However, the Chicago Bulls legend — who was raised to be humble by his parents — never viewed himself as a better player than Magic or Bird.

Following his fifth NBA championship in 1997, Jordan was asked by SLAM Magazine where he put himself next to Magic and Bird. MJ said he, Bird and Magic were on parallel ground.

“I don’t put myself above them,” Jordan said. “I think that we’re all on parallel ground here. You know, they educated me about a lot of things about the game from a team standpoint. So I can’t put myself above. I mean, people try to, but we played in different eras.

“I had an opportunity to go against them in the peak of their careers while I was still young. And I went against them when I was at the peak of mine when they was on the other end. So it was a passing of trends there, and we never had the opportunity to play against each other in peak years. You know, so it’s hard to say that I’m above them by no means. I like to consider myself parallel to them.”

Jordan faced Bird in the playoffs twice, while he matched up against Magic once in the postseason. MJ never defeated Bird in the playoffs, but he did get the best of Magic once. 

Bird and the Celtics swept Jordan and the Bulls in the first round of the 1986 playoffs and the first round of the 1987 postseason. In Game 2 of the 1986 series, Jordan set an NBA record by scoring 63 points. Even though Boston won, Bird was in awe of Jordan. 

“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there,” Bird said. “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

After the Bulls acquired Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, Jordan had the help he needed to make some noise in the postseason. Chicago finally defeated the Detroit Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals after losing to them three years in a row and faced Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Los Angeles won Game 1 in Chicago, but the Bulls won the next four games to clinch the championship.

Jordan and Magic hugged each other in the hallway after the Bulls won the ’91 title. An emotional Jordan was so happy that he busted through and became a champion and Magic was there to comfort him.

You can’t talk about NBA history without mentioning Jordan, Magic and Bird. The three basketball purists gave everything they had to the game and experienced individual and team success.

Jordan, Magic and Bird combined to win 14 titles, 11 regular-season MVPs and 11 Finals MVPs. The three friends were on the 1992 Dream Team that won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

In 1,072 NBA games, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He won 10 scoring titles, five regular-season MVPs, six rings and six Finals MVPs. The 14-time All-Star is the all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating.

Magic, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 11.2 assists. He won three regular-season MVPs, three Finals MVPs and five championships. Magic is seventh in NBA history in assists and third in triple-doubles.

Like Magic, Bird only played for one NBA team. He averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists for the Celtics while winning three regular-season MVPs, three championships and two Finals MVPs. Larry Legend is 10th all-time in triple-doubles.

Jordan, Bird and Magic were close friends during their playing careers and still keep in touch to this day. It was undoubtedly a treat for basketball fans to watch the three icons play and achieve success at the highest level in the ’80s and ’90s.

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