Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird are two of the greatest players to ever step foot on a basketball court and spearheaded a rivalry that jumpstarted the popularity of the NBA in the 1980s.
For that and many other reasons, the two were honored at the 2019 NBA Awards Show with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Johnson and Bird were at the forefront of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry that boosted the league into the limelight.
While great friends off the floor, the two were fierce on it as the Lakers and Celtics dominated the decade. Either the Lakers or Celtics were in the NBA Finals each season in the 1980s, facing off three times with the Lakers winning two of them in 1985 and 1987.
The two also competed for awards individually as Bird won three straight NBA Most Valuable Player awards from 1984-86. Johnson would then take over, winning three himself in a four year period between 1987-1990.
Just as important to both Johnson and Bird’s legacies is what they have done since their playing careers ended.
Bird stayed in basketball, becoming the Indiana Pacers head coach before moving into a front office role as president of basketball operations. He won the 2000 NBA Coach of the Year award, leading the Pacers to the NBA Finals. In addition, he is the first person to win Most Valuable Player award, Coach of the Year award, and Executive of the Year award.
Johnson made his impact away from basketball, showing that athletes can do more than that just play sports. His business ventures have inspired athletes from all walks of life to think about more than the game and focus on life once their career is done.
Legends both on and off the court, there are very few players more deserving of this award than the two who are receiving it.