Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird: Comparing career stats for Lakers, Celtics legends

The fierce rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics in the 1980s launched the NBA into a different stratosphere. The league’s massive spike in popularity was powered by one of the best individual battles in sports history: Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird.


In that decade, either Los Angeles or Boston reached every NBA Finals. Johnson and Bird faced off three times in the championship series with Johnson winning two of the three matchups. They established themselves as two of the greatest players of all time, ultimately ending up in the Hall of Fame.


While Johnson and Bird were able to build a friendship and true appreciation for each other’s skills, fans from that era remain firmly entrenched in their stances. You’re either on Team Magic or Team Bird.


We won’t tell you which side to pick. We’re only here to provide the stats for these basketball legends in order to add some facts to the endless debates.


Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird: Regular season stats


Bird was a better scorer, outside shooter and rebounder than Johnson, but Johnson had the upper hand in the passing department. He averaged 10.5 assists per game or more nine times in his career, and he is arguably the best passer in NBA history.


This category is incredibly close. Johnson stands above Bird in PER, VORP, BPM and Win Shares, but Bird is right behind him.


The Lakers and Celtics always leaned on Johnson and Bird in the postseason, and they often delivered huge performances during deep runs.


It’s worth noting that Johnson finished his career with an 11-8 record against Bird in playoff games. (All of those games took place in the NBA Finals, of course.)



Once again, the advanced stats are tight with Johnson holding a slight edge. Both Johnson and Bird are in the top 15 on the all-time lists for playoff VORP, BPM and Win Shares.



For a lot of folks, this is the trump card for Johnson. He has five rings on his hand, and Bird has three.


But don’t forget that Bird is one of just three players to pull off an MVP three-peat along with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.



Gideon Canice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *