After Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley weighed in with their thoughts on Miami’s “Super-Friends” collaboration, now Magic Johnson is having his say:
“We didn’t think about (superstars teaming up) ’cause that’s not what we were about,” Magic told reporters during a visit to New York. “From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird.”
That’s following Jordan’s comments over the weekend that he never would have teamed up with Magic and Bird because, “In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”
However, both Michael and Magic admitted that times are different now. “It was never a question in our mind because nobody had ever done that,” Magic said.
Players today are encouraged by the League to be friendly with each other, and you could even argue that the crackdowns on hard fouls and rough play have contributed to a more buddy-buddy NBA culture. Plus, with players sharing the same agents (like Wade and Bosh), pros now playing with Team USA (and other countries) together every summer, annual rookie symposiums, and the NBA sending non-teammates on goodwill tours around the world in the offeason, friendships are more likely to develop. Once upon a time, hard-fought games and playoff series seemed genuinely bitter; now it’s hugs all around before and after games.
There are more qualifiers. By all accounts, Jordan wasn’t good friends with Magic or Bird. Now had the opportunity come up for Jordan to play with close off-court buddies Barkley and Patrick Ewing? That might be a different story.
Also, consider that Magic never had a problem with carrying mediocre talent around him. He walked onto a team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a couple years into his career, L.A. landed James Worthy with the No. 1 pick in the Draft. The same could be said for Bird (who has yet to comment on the Miami trio), who had Hall of Famers Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson with him in Boston during his prime; and Jordan eventually got Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman on his side in Chicago. Had Magic or Mike been playing with Reggie Theus‘ Sacramento supporting cast for seven years, they might have sought help elsewhere.
Lastly, in Jordan’s role as an owner, would he be opposed to signing three superstars to his team if he had the cap space? Would Magic, in his role as public ambassador for the Lakers, be opposed to three superstars joining forces in L.A. for the purple and gold? Just saying…