Throwback Thursday: Magic Johnson defeats Larry Bird in 1979 NCAA Championship


Welcome to the edition of Throwback Thursdays! Each Thursday, we will recognize a random moment in Laker history. It can be anything like classic game winning shots, interviews, quotes, trash talking, dunks, etc. Some memories will be completely random, while others may be relative to what is happening in the present day.

The NCAA Tournament starts today so this edition of Throwback Thursday is dedicated to Magic Johnson, who won the NCAA Championship with Michigan State in 1979. Ironically, this victory came over Indiana State University who were led by Magic’s eventual long time rival, Larry Bird.

Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75 to 64. Magic Johnson went 8 for 15 as he scored 24 points and gained 7 rebounds. Larry Bird ended up 7 for 21 with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Magic was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. After two years in college, he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game.

It seemed as if Bird and Magic were destined to rival each other after Bird was drafted by the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. Both players would go on to dominate the 1980s as each of the teams (separately) or both at the same time made it to the NBA Finals in every single year, including three head-to-head match-ups.

After enjoying college success, Magic would go on to earn the right of being recognized as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He became a 5 time NBA Champion with 3 Finals MVPs, a 12 time NBA All-Star with 2 All-Star game MVPs. He also won the NBA MVP award 3 times and led the league in assists 4 times. His career highlights and awards can go on and on for days.

As we all watch the NCAA tournament, let’s think about how one of these college players could end up being an NBA great. Who would’ve known that Earvin Johnson Jr. from Michigan State would become the face of the Showtime Lakers?

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Written by Deshaun Sheppard

Deshaun is a 24-year-old college student. His goal is to be a journalist and he's currently looking for any opportunity to gain some experience. He also covers music news for He's a huge Laker fan and can't wait to share his thoughts with all of the Lakerholicz. If you want to know more about him, follow him on Twitter @WOLF_CHUKI.

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