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Michael Jordan Reveals He Never Asked Magic Johnson Or Larry Bird For Advice: “I Knew If I Was Going To Obtain It I Had To Learn And Do It Myself.”

Michael Jordan Reveals He Never Asked Magic Johnson Or Larry Bird For Advice: “I Knew If I Was Going To Obtain It I Had To Learn And Do It Myself.”

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the two defining players of the NBA during the 1980s. Johnson and Bird were the central figures of the Lakers and Celtics respectively throughout the 80s and led their franchises to a combined 8 NBA championships during the 80s. As the NBA transitioned into the 90s, there was only one player capable of taking their spot at the top of the NBA mountain.

Michael Jordan became the key figure of the NBA in the 1990s. While Jordan had found success in the NBA during the 1980s, it was mostly individual success, and Jordan hadn't won on a team level like Larry and Magic. By the 1990s, Jordan learned from his years in the league and became a serial winner, especially on the championship front.

One would imagine given the age difference between them, and the similar degree of dominance the players had, Jordan sought advice from Magic and Larry. But that is not the case. In a podcast episode by Jackie MacMullan, she played a clip of an old interview with Jordan, where he noted that he never approached Larry Bird or Magic Johnson for advice, but only observed them and learned from afar (0:27 onwards).

“I’m laughing at you now. No. I never called them. I learned from afar. I understood what they obtained in their careers and their personalities and the way they played. And I wanted to emulate them in terms of the way they were respected throughout the league and the way they started winning championships. They became a goal for me so I didn’t get on the phone (and say) ‘Hey Magic, what do you think about this?’ Or ‘Bird, what do you think about this?’. No I didn’t do that. I knew, if I was going to obtain it, I had to learn it myself.”

Jordan was clearly very driven and wanted to attain the success that he had seen Larry Bird and Magic Johnson attain. But he wanted to do it his way and wanted to do it without their help. He believed that in order to be a winner, he needed to approach the game with his own ideas, rather than take advice from great players who played very differently from him.

Jordan would go on to eclipse Magic and Larry, as he won more championships and individual accolades than them, and went on to become the greatest player in the history of the NBA. But it is clear that while he didn't approach them, MJ had a great deal of respect for Larry and Magic, and wanted to be successful like them.