However, the Lakers will not be completely absent from the ceremony, as “Showtime” Lakers legend Magic Johnson will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be joined by his longtime friend and competitor Larry Bird.
This is the third year that the NBA has presented a Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill Russell was the recipient in 2017, and Oscar Robertson received the award last year. Bird and Magic are the first co-honorees, which is so perfectly fitting considering how long their careers have intersected with one another.
Magic was drafted into the NBA in 1979, one year after Bird, and for the next decade, one of the two players was in the NBA Finals every single season. The Lakers and the Boston Celtics faced each other three times, with Los Angeles winning two of those series. In total, Magic is a five-time champion and Bird won three titles. Each player is also a 12-time All-Star and a three-time MVP.
Magic and Bird both ended up coaching, though Magic’s tenure lasted 16 games and Bird ended up winning Coach of the Year in 1998 with the Indiana Pacers. Bird moved on to become President of Basketball Operations in Indiana in 2003, a role he occupied almost continuously until 2017, the year that Magic assumed the same position for the Lakers.
Although it is a little strange for Magic to be recognized after his recent spontaneous resignation from the Lakers, the body of his work over the course of his career and post-playing career stands up to anyone else’s in league history. It will be a wonderful moment for the NBA to honor him and Bird, especially together, at the NBA Awards show on June 24.