“I was envious of the way Magic Johnson came into the NBA”: Michael Jordan revealed how the Lakers sensation’s flair and immediate success affected him

Samir Mehdi
|Published 07/03/2022

Michael Jordan once opened up about being envious of Magic Johnson for the way he came into the NBA with the Lakers. 

With having won the 1979 NCAA national championship over rival, Larry Bird, and playing the way he did, Magic Johnson was a borderline celebrity before even stepping foot on NBA hardwood. Michael Jordan would enter the league in a similar way. 

He would have immense success as a UNC Tar Heel, even hitting the game-clinching baseline jumper to win the 1982 NCAA title as a freshman. There isn’t a proper way to measure the amount of buzz the two MJs generated upon reaching the big leagues but there certainly is a way to tell who was more successful off the bat.

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Magic Johnson came into the league and as a rookie, led the Los Angeles Lakers to a championship to usher in the new decade, while being their most valuable player. Michael Jordan on the other hand, was on a lowly Chicago Bulls team that could not put together a deep Playoff run for nearly half a decade. 

Sure, Jordan was putting up incredible individual stats but those statistics mean nothing if first and second round exits become the norm for your team. 

Michael Jordan on being envious of Magic Johnson. 

Seeing a young guard who is just as good as him enjoy a plethora of success in Los Angeles while your team struggle would be tough on any one. Michael Jordan certainly didn’t mince his words when asked about how he felt about Magic Johnson early on in his career.

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“There was a bit of envy because of the way I came into the league. Magic came in with even more flair and even more success. And he should have been even bigger than I was in terms of endorsements and business opportunities. But he wasn’t marketed that way. And I was fortunate to have good people. So there was some envy.” 

Jordan eventually said that the two buried the hatchet during his third year in the league, saying:

“During my third year, he invited me out to play in his summer charity game. We ironed out our differences in private in the locker room and we began a relationship.” 

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About the author
Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is an NBA Editor at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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