“I felt Magic Johnson didn’t like me”: Michael Jordan Revealed how a Rumour Split the Bulls legend and Lakers Legend Early in his Career

Achyuth Jayagopal
|Published 06/01/2023

The revival of NBA basketball can be attributed mainly to two names – Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. The marketability of these two superstars and their transcendent abilities sparked a fire in the basketball community.

And at the peak of their popularity, it appeared to the world that they shared quite the bond too. Footage from their time together at the Dream Team was proof of the friendship the stars shared.

Also read: Magic Johnson Recalls Michael Jordan’s “Claim to the Throne” as Rachel Nichols and All The Smoke Crew Laugh in Splits 

However, things weren’t always rosy between the two superstars. Rumors from the time suggested that Magic Johnson and fellow All-Star Isiah Thomas were jealous of the new kid on the block.

The root of the jealousy wasn’t professional success – after all, Michael Jordan broke into the league at a time the silverware was firmly nested between Isiah and Magic. It probably had everything to do with Michael being “Air Jordan”. Or at least, that’s what the rumor mill churned out.

Michael Jordan wasn’t oblivious to the rumors either. Despite his adulation for the Lakers superstar, events early in Jordan’s career led him to believe his idol didn’t like him.

Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas allegedly acted on their jealousy against His Airness.

While jealousy is natural, especially when you see a rookie get a $2.5 million sneaker deal that outshone what Isiah and Magic, two of the biggest stars in the NBA earned; acting upon it wasn’t expected.

However, events from the 1985 All-Star Weekend told a different story. The veterans Magic and Isiah allegedly conspired to ensure that Michael Jordan was humiliated in front of the watching world. The ball evaded the hands of Jordan and plays alienated the young tyke during his first All-Star game.

His Airness did take note and the rumors were all over his face too. Naturally, Jordan believed that one of the players he looked up to the most, Magic Johnson, didn’t like him.

Nearly 25 years after the fact, Jordan confirmed that the incident strained his relationship with Magic for years. “It kind of split us,” Jordan said. “I felt Magic didn’t like me. He and Isiah were freezing me out” revealed MJ of the events of 1985.

“I had some endorsements and a good agent [David Falk]. I was taking advantage of some situations that Magic could have had too, with the right representation and I felt there was some envy between the two of us. But I took it with a grain of salt. “I just didn’t spend time with him. I respected his game and left it at that” narrated Jordan about his relationship with Magic pre-Dream Team.

To be snubbed by one’s own childhood idol definitely must have hurt. But as they say, all’s well that ends well. A friendship soon formed and overshadowed the rumored bitterness from the past between the superstar duo.

How big a Magic Johnson fan was Michael Jordan, growing up?

Looking back beyond the bitterness and subsequent friendship, one reaches the time the former Bulls star was just another kid enamored by the ever-smiling, flamboyant play of Magic Johnson.

“As a teenager growing up in North Carolina, Jordan was a Magic Johnson disciple. He even drove a 1975 Grand Prix with the license plate Magic Mike on the front” wrote Roland Lazenby in Michael Jordan: The Life. 

While Magic Mike may not have caught on, the influence was clear. Earvin’s “Magic” clearly caught on, and the Black Cat was only one of the many he inspired.

From “disciple” to rival to friend, the relationship between the duo evolved. Six championships and a friendly relationship with a childhood rival describe quite the NBA journey indeed.

Also read: When Magic Johnson Revealed Michael Jordan’s Reaction on Learning about his Retirement Post HIV+ Announcement 

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About the author
Achyuth Jayagopal

Achyuth Jayagopal

Achyuth Jayagopal is a creative writer with The Sportsrush. After previous freelance dabbles in the industry, Achyuth has authored over 300 pieces for TSR. Having followed the game of basketball for a considerable period, he pledges his allegiance to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Beyond speaking his mind on all things basketball, Achyuth is a Sports and Gaming Lawyer who is an ardent Chelsea fan and takes a shine to the culinary world and travelling too.

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