Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were extremely close to having a one on one against one another but the NBA eventually shut it down.
The NBA in the 1980s was dominated by two men: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The two would combine for a whopping 8 championships in the decade, with Moses Malone’s Sixers and the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons sneaking in a couple themselves. Alongside the dominance of Bird and Magic, another plotline that was developing in the 80s was the eventual ascension of Bulls guard, Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan had to earn his stripes within the NBA and did so by knocking off all-time greats, one by one in the NBA Finals. His first ‘victim’ on the biggest stage of them all, was 5x champ, Magic Johnson and a Lakers roster that was at the tail end of their primes in 1991.
However, during the start of Michael Jordan’s Bulls run to the NBA Finals in consecutive years, a few promoters outside of the NBA wanted to test the waters on what it would be like to have a star-studded 1v1 featuring the aforementioned Bull and the greatest point guard of all time.
The NBA did not allow Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson to square off in a 1v1 outside of the league.
Lou DiBella and Seth Abraham came forth with an idea of having a 1 one 1 between Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, to the latter. Magic seems to have been enticed by such a proposal and was reportedly all on board for the game to take place.
Upon hearing this Jordan’s interest in the proposition peaked as he said, “Not to sound cocky, I must admit I would have the advantage being that I would be a little bit quicker and able to use a lot more weapons than he may.”
The NBA however, got wind off this event stirring and looked to shut it down immediately. Gary Bettman, a lawyer for the NBA said, “We’re not interested in seeing out players being promoted like fighters in Las Vegas.”
The 1v1 between the two multiple time champions never took place. Perhaps an event like this could only take place once both superstars have retired form the NBA, such as when Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Julius Erving matched up against one another in 1992 after both had left the NBA.