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Magic Johnson Says He Would Never Have Teamed Up With Rivals

Jul 20, 2010 – 11:22 PM
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Lonnie White

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The idea of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh manipulating today's NBA free agency world has certainly generated a great deal of negative feedback.

And now add Earvin "Magic" Johnson to the list of former NBA players who have questioned how James, Wade and Bosh decided this summer to become teammates together with the Miami Heat.

"We didn't think about it 'cause that's not what we were about," Johnson said at Baruch College in New York, according to Bloomberg News. "From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird."

Johnson, who won five NBA championships playing for the Lakers after he led Michigan State to an NCAA title victory over Bird and Indiana State in 1979, said it was never a real possibility for him to play with Michael Jordan and Bird.

"It was never a question in our mind because nobody has ever done that," Johnson said when looking back to his era.

James, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, has been the main target since he left the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 8 to join Wade and Bosh as free agents. Johnson said James, who failed to win an NBA title in seven seasons playing for Cleveland, will feel the pressure to win even more now.

"I think he will be, one day, a great businessman," Johnson said about James. "The first order of business for LeBron is to win championships. If you build your brand on the court, then that will take care of the off-the-court brand."

Johnson's comments come only days after Jordan told reporters at a weekend golf event that he'd rather beat Johnson and Bird than become their teammates.

"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team', " said Jordan, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.

"But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."

Even Charles Barkley, who never played on an NBA championship team, recently chipped in on the debate.

"Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this," Barkley told the Arizona Republic. "If you're the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don't leave anywhere. They come to you. That's ridiculous. I like LeBron. He's a great player. But I don't think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people."
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