Magic Johnson on whether he thought about playing with Michael Jordan: “I wasn’t a guy like that"

Magic Johnson didn't think about joining forces with Michael Jordan at any point during his career. Magic and MJ played together in the 1992 Dream Team, but that was it. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson asked Magic if there was a time when he thought about playing with MJ, and the Los Angeles Lakers great quickly replied 'no.' 

"You know what? I wasn't a guy like that. I never wanted to play with nobody but my dudes. Yeah. I was good. And I've always been a dude, where I end up, that's where I'm rolling. And so, even pick up games, I never try to get all the name dudes. I try to just go with dudes who want to play. Yeah, let's go. I like that underdog thing, anyway. Come on, let's go beat these dudes over here," Johnson said.

"And so that was always my mindset, and I'm glad. But I would say this. That's what makes sports special, right? Not everybody joining each other. You know, go make it happen. If you're the best, you have to go up against them guys anyway."

Magic was cut from a different cloth

Magic Johnson was cut from a cloth different than the current crop of superstars. Back in the 70s, 80s, and even the early 90s, the only way to get to the top was to go over the hump and take off the head of the reigning king.

Johnson's Lakers had to go through Bird's Celtics to win their titles. Meanwhile, the Bad Boys lost first to the Lakers before dethroning them in 1989. Same with MJ's Bulls, who had to get eliminated by the Pistons several times before finally breaking through in 1991.

The landscape changed when LeBron James left Cleveland to chase titles in Miami. He left South Beach after winning two chips and then returned to the Cavs to give them their first-ever NBA title. Kevin Durant followed as he left OKC to win two titles with the Golden State Warriors. In 2018, James left Cleveland again to join forces with Anthony Davis in Los Angeles, where they won the 2020 title for the Lakers.

Magic and MJ won a combined 11 NBA championships

Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan won a combined 11 NBA championships, including one where they faced off against each other. Johnson won five titles during the 1980s with his Showtime Los Angeles Lakers crew, including back-to-back wins in 1987 and 1988. On the other hand, Jordan's Bulls won six championships during the 1990s and did so in two three-peats during an 8-year span.

Johnson abruptly retired in 1991 after he was diagnosed with HIV. Not only did he return to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game and won MVP honors, but he also played for the 1992 U.S. men's basketball, which was known as the Dream Team, where he teamed up with Michael Jordan.

Before the start of the 1992-93 season, Magic planned to make a comeback but ultimately decided not to return due to opposition from several players. He eventually made a return during the 1995-96 campaign and even hinted about joining another team in free agency. In the end, he chose to retire for good at the age of 36. However, it would have been interesting to see how many more Magic could have won if he joined MJ after the 1992 Olympics.

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