Summer Olympics Basketball: Magic and Larry Bird’s Rivalry, Friendship Made the 1992 Dream Team Even Greater

COMMENTARY| The 1979 NCAA National Championship put college basketball on the map. It was the highest-rated game of its era, and remains so to this day.
The two stars that played in that game, Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird, would go on to change the landscape of professional basketball, becoming two of the National Basketball Association’s figureheads in the 1980s — the “Golden Era” of the NBA.
While Magic and the Spartans bested Bird and the Sycamores in the 1979 title game 75-64, it wasn’t the end of their rivalry. Bird, who became “Larry Legend” with the Boston Celtics, battled Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the ’80s for league supremacy. Magic ended up with five titles, while Bird, who lost twice to Magic and the Lakers, earned three.
They both helped boost the NBA’s popularity and cemented their legacies in basketball lore.