NBA Great Says Lakers ‘Definitely’ Need Games Before Playoffs, Names His MVP

Magic Johnson

Getty Images Former Lakers Legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson

There can’t be a conversation about one of the best to play the game of basketball without mentioning Magic Johnson. After all, the retired Los Angeles Laker is a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA finals MVP and three-time league MVP.

Few will ever amass Johnson’s career accolades, but the 60-year-old believes some of the current players in the association might come close. As a guest on ESPN’s “First Take” Thursday morning, Johnson revealed who he feels is the best player in the world and contrary to what some may think, it’s not Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Via Bleacher Report: “When we got to January, and LeBron kept dominating. Then on the [March 6 game], he defended Giannis Antetokounmpo and did an amazing job. LeBron did, and dominated in scoring, rebounds and assists. Then he turned around [on March 8], they beat the Clippers…he dominated on both ends of the court. I said ‘that’s your MVP.’ So LeBron James, to me, right now if the season ended today, is the MVP of the league. … I like Patrick Mahomes, but he’s no LeBron James. And LeBron James is the No. 1 sports player in the world.”

The Birth of the Johnson-Bird Rivalry

March 26, 2020 marks 41 years since Johnson and Boston Celtics great Larry Bird faced off for the first time in the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament. After a hard-fought game, Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State side 75-64. As a guest on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Johnson spoke candidly about the beginning of that now-storied rivalry and how they essentially coined the term “March Madness” in 1979. Listen to his remarks below.


Magic Johnson remembers going head-to-head with Larry Bird for the NCAA Championship | Get UpMagic Johnson joins Mike Greenberg on Get Up and reflects ushering in “March Madness” following the Michigan State Spartans defeating Larry Bird and Indiana State Sycamores for the NCAA Championship on the 41st anniversary of the iconic game. #GetUp #CollegeBasketball ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ plus.espn.com/ ✔️ Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube:…2020-03-26T14:52:02.000Z

To this day, that contest remains the highest rated and most-watched college basketball game of all time with 35.1 million tuning in to watch the showdown.

Johnson Explains How the NBA Should Continue the Regular Season

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the daily lives of Americans, the timeline of when sports will make a triumphant return remains a mystery. Reports have identified a mid-to-late June return, but even then seems too early given the circumstances.

Considering they were arguably the best team in the league and a favorite to be this year’s champions, many would love to see the Los Angeles Lakers take the hardwood again this campaign for a chance at the Larry O’Brien trophy.

There’s a lot NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his team must determine before coming to a definite resolution, and Johnson believes that starts with allowing team to play some games in order to “get back in their timing and rhythm.”

“We do need — definitely — some games, no question about it,” Johnson affirmed. “Now, you can do it one of two ways. You can say, okay, if it takes us too long to get back, then maybe have some scrimmages between some teams so they can get some sense of playing again. Do exhibitions or scrimmages, or something like that, so they can get back to understanding how to play with one another, get back into game shape, and get back in their timing and rhythm.

“Or, you can play some regular-season games and they get all those things. I do want a couple of games before the NBA starts the playoffs because it would not only be good for the guys but also the basketball fans, because we want to see them at their best. I think it will take at least a week or two to see them at their best (come the playoffs).”


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