Of the 19 NBA seasons between 1979-1980 and 1997-98, only three times did the NBA Finals not include at least one of the trio of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan (two of which none of the trio played an entire season). With Johnson now joining Bird and Jordan leading an NBA franchise, can this trio again dominate the NBA?
The easy answer would seem to be no, but given the determination of all three NBA Legends, anything is certainly possible.
Michael Jordan’s track record leading an NBA Franchise has been a bit less than earthshaking. He had a dubious front office start by drafting Kwame Brown with the first pick of the 2001 NBA Draft while serving as Director of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. He was ultimately fired by the Wizards following the 2003 season.
He became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006 and as part of his role was the primary decision maker for basketball operations. Jordan became the majority owner in 2010 and has maintained that role through the name-change of the franchise back to being the Charlotte Hornets.
During the past decade, the Bobcats/Hornets have not been particularly impressive on the court. They have managed only three winning seasons and in each of those years lost in the opening round of the playoffs. The 2011-2012 team posted a 7-59 record during the strike-shortened season for a winning percentage of just .106.
Last season the Hornets had an impressive 48-34 record, but were again knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs. Expected to be a contender this year, they are currently 11th in the East with a disappointing 25-33 record.
Given his competitiveness, you can bet if Jordan sees Magic Johnson come in and return the Los Angeles Lakers to past glory, it will light an even greater competitive fire under the best player in NBA history.
While Jordan’s tenure as an executive has clearly been below par, Larry Bird has had some stretches of success leading the Indiana Pacers.
Bird served for three seasons as head coach of the Pacers from 1998-2000 and had an overall record of 147-67. He guided the Pacers to the 2000 NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
He became President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers in 2003 and in 2011-2012 was named the NBA Executive of the Year. He left the team for a year from 2012-2013, but since 2013 has again served as President of basketball Operations for the Pacers.
Since 2003 the Pacers have reached the playoffs eight times, but have never been able to advance past the Eastern Conference Finals.
Given the recent struggles of the Lakers, they have not made the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season, Johnson would seem to have his hands full in turning around the prestigious franchise. However, the Lakers remain one of the marquee franchises of the league and Magic has an outgoing personality that is very different from either Jordan or Bird.
That would seem to make Los Angeles a possible attractive destination for NBA free agents. If that is the case, Johnson may be able to quickly get the Lakers back into contention in the West.
Regardless, you can guarantee that Bird and Jordan are both paying attention to their old rival and will do everything they can to try and best their long-time rival.
Even if none of the trio are able to lead their team to an NBA title, the league is more fun with Magic, Larry and Michael all back in the fold.