Michael Jordan recalls having a playful argument with Magic Johnson on the rest of the Dream Team on who were the alphas in the NBA.
The fact that players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Charles Barkley weren’t allowed to participate in the Olympics upon making it to the NBA until 1992 was a travesty. It robbed fans from across the world from seeing some of the greatest basketball players who ever played the game. The ‘Dream Team’ however, put an end to this drought.
Putting that many NBA alphas together on one roster doesn’t seem like that great of an idea. While they did go undefeated at Barcelona, the main concern would be whether or not the guys would mesh. It would make sense for them not to.
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You had Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan (Bulls beat the Blazers that same summer in the Finals), Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing (a Knick and a Celtic), and the elder statesman in Magic Johnson, hovering his superiority over the rest of the group.
That last bit may be a bit of an exaggeration but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Magic made it clear on numerous occasions that he believed himself and Bird to be the unequivocal alphas on the team.
Michael Jordan talks about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson combined for 8 championships and 6 league MVPs during the 1980s. They were the clear alphas of the NBA for a decade but fast forward to 1992 and Michael Jordan was who everybody talked about.
Despite having lost to Jordan in the 1991 NBA Finals and also in the most iconic scrimmage game of all time, Magic couldn’t let his crown as being the ‘king’ of the NBA go. Larry, who was forced into retirement due to severe back issues, had no problem with giving it up to MJ.
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Michael Jordan, on an episode of the ‘Icons Club’, recalled their time in Barcelona together. One conversation they had would delve into who the current alpha of the NBA was and Jordan opened up about this to Jackie MacMullan:
“Magic wouldn’t let it go. He wouldn’t let it go. ‘We got 5 championships, me and Bird were the 80s, blah blah blah.’ Pip was there to co-sign with me that these are the 90s and there’s a new kid on the block. Magic wouldn’t let it go and Bird looked at him and went, ‘Our time is over. We just got to step aside and let them take over.’”