Magic Johnson. Chris Paul. Just mention those two names. You’ll probably be hit with images of dimes being dropped like deposits in a bank account, ice cream-sweet crossovers to the bucket, and buzzer-beating jumpers. These two are arguably two of the greatest point guards to ever play. While they were never pitted against each other (imagine that), let’s compare them in a David versus Goliath matchup because of the obvious size differential.
Magic was 6-9 and 225 pounds. Chris Paul is 6-0 and 175.
When I think of Magic Johnson, I think of greatness, especially since Johnson played at a time where point guard wasn’t the league’s dominate position. He was called Magic for a reason, right? CP3 doesn’t have the name or the fame that Magic once had, nor does he have the height, but both still impacted the game in similar ways, which says a lot for Paul. The point guard position is known as the shot-caller and the leader. Being clutch comes with the position. Magic had no problem with this job duty and neither does CP3. Both can get a bucket in crunch time when their team needs a shot to win the game. This killer instinct can’t be taught, and both were born with it.
Chris Paul is the complete package as a point guard. He’s the top floor general in the game, with the ability to handle, drive, shoot and steal. When talking about top players at positions in the NBA, typically it raises an argument, and the depth is amazing at point guard right now. But who can really argue against Chris Paul as the best point guard in the NBA? Exactly. We can talk Kyrie Irving, Rondo, Deron Williams, Tony Parker… but it’s a general consensus that all fall behind CP3.
So, how dominate was Magic Johnson during his tenure in the NBA? For nine straight years (’82-91), Magic Johnson averaged double-figures in points and assists while also winning four NBA championships, two Finals MVPs and three league MVPs during that span. (It’s also important to note that Magic won a title and Finals MVP before that span started, in 1980 averaging 21.6 ppg and 8.6 apg.) Quite the accolade list there, huh? Magic has career per-game averages of 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 1.9 steals.
Amazing huh? There is a kryptonite in Chris Paul’s game when looking at a comparison with Magic Johnson. What seems to be the single measure of greatness in today’s game? NBA championships. Through eight years, CP3 has yet to collect his first ring. In fact, Paul has yet to represent his team in a conference finals. This is a team game and no one man can win by himself, and Chris Paul has had an amazing career thus far, but the fact that he’s won just two playoff series will continue to derail his legacy. It caught up to LeBron after a number of years, and it will catch up to Chris Paul if he doesn’t capture a ring.
While the NBA Playoffs have been Chris Paul’s weak point, Magic excelled in the playoffs. You already know he won five NBA championships and three Finals MVPs, and every year Magic was in the league he was in the playoffs. Every single year. Even crazier? Over one-fourth of the time Magic Johnson was in the playoffs, he won a title. That’s more than a quarter of his playoff career. Magic averaged 19.5 points, 12.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game during his 13 playoff appearances. Look at those number; Magic was literally a few rebounds a game from averaging a triple-double. That’s jaw dropping.