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Magic Johnson, Larry Bird Debut – October 12, 1979

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Magic Johnson and Larry Bird faced each other in the NCAA championship game on March 9, 1979. Johnson’s Michigan State team defeated Indiana State, led by Bird.

The following June, the Los Angeles Lakers with the first pick in the draft, selected Johnson. Bird had already been drafted in 1978 by the Boston Celtics. Even though he had only completed his junior year, Bird was eligible because he had originally enrolled at the University of Indiana, but he dropped out during his freshman year and sat out a season.

Johnson and Bird both played their first NBA games on October 12, 1979. Bird and the Celtics opened their season against the Rudy Tomjanovich led Houston Rockets. Bird had a respectable 14 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, but he had to sit out the last 6.5 minutes, having committed five fouls. The Celtics won 114-106.

Even with Johnson’s 26 points in his debut game, the Lakers needed a Kareem Abdul Jabbar last second sky hook to edge the Los Angeles Clippers 103-102.


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