Without a doubt the biggest rivalry in the history of the NBA is between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. While the two franchises have squared off in numerous eras, it reached its peak in the 1980s with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as the faces of not just the two teams, but the NBA as a whole.
While the two were great friends off the court, they were fierce rivals on it with the two sides waging war on numerous occasions. Magic was the flashy, once-in-a-lifetime playmaker who was constantly smiling on the court, while Bird always looked focused and is one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen.
Anytime Magic and Bird faced off it was must-see television and the final meeting between the two occurred on this day in 1991 when the Lakers defeated the Celtics in a preseason game 118-104, via NBA History Twitter account:
October 11, 1991… the last time Larry Bird & Magic Johnson played against each other. Magic scored 18 PTS in the @Lakers 118-104 preseason victory over the @celtics. #NBAPreseason continues tonight on @NBATV (10pm/et). pic.twitter.com/fuE2udHyjx
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) October 11, 2018
Of course, no one realized going into the contest that it would be the final game between the two. Not long after, Johnson would discover that he had HIV and immediately retire from the NBA. Bird would retire after the season, but the two would reunite the following summer on the Dream Team.
It was an unexpected end to the NBA’s greatest rivalry as Magic and Bird were always competing for that top spot. Each player won three regular season MVPs, but Magic had the advantage where it mattered most, defeating Bird twice in three NBA Finals meetings and holding the overall championship advantage, 5-3.
The Bird and Magic rivalry will forever be remembered, but today, we all remember the last time they faced off in purple and gold, and white and green.
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