Although each player achieved enough during their career to legitimately have earned the title of legend by themselves, the story of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is one that is more properly told as a two-hander. The players were rivals in their college years as two of the most promising up-and-coming players and when they entered the NBA it was as part of the same draft in 1979 that both players joined. They would renew their rivalry there, Bird with the Boston Celtics and Johnson with the Los Angeles Lakers.
During the careers of Bird and Johnson, the Celtics and Lakers would meet in the NBA Finals series three times, with the Celtics triumphing in 1984, the Lakers avenging that result the following year, and an injury-plagued Boston team coming up short in 1987 as the Lakers won the series 4-2. Nonetheless, Bird would match a record held by only two other players in the history of the game at that time by picking up three consecutive league MVP awards in 1984, 85 and 86.
Perhaps united by their shared experience of a game that had been in the doldrums with the US public before their entry into the league, but was given a shot in the arm by their arrival on the scene, Bird and Johnson are now close friends. After a spell as a coach at the Indiana Pacers, Bird is now a team president while Johnson, who tested HIV positive in 1991, is a charity spokesperson in the fight against AIDS. His HIV has never mutated into AIDS, and he has become a figurehead for GlazoSmithKline.