Earvin "Magic" Johnson is among the most decorated superstars in the history of the NBA. The five-time champion dazzled crowds nightly with his uncanny versatility and passing prowess, all while standing at six-foot-nine and weighing in at 220 pounds.
Magic's greatness was also compounded by the competition he faced and overcame throughout his career. One of those familiar foes was the original "Bad Boy Pistons", led by Hall-Of-Fame guard and good friend Isiah Thomas.
Magic recalls his battles with the Pistons
Despite their bond off the court, Magic and Thomas shared a fierce and explosive rivalry on the hardwood, culminating in back-to-back Finals matchups in 1988 and 1989.
Recently, Magic sat down with Shannon Sharpe on his podcast "Club Shay Shay" to discuss his respect for the Pistons.
"I say this to Isiah, his 'Bad Boy' Pistons, I don't think there has ever been a more physical team than them. They imposed their will on you, right, they beat you up, man, and if you flinched, it was over for you. So 88' when we played them, it was a physical matchup 7-game series, we won in Game 7, but the next in 89' they came back and beat us. They would be physical, and then they had that three-headed monster in Isiah, Joe Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson, you couldn't do nothing with them. And I'm not even talking about John Salley and Rodman and Bill Laimbeer.
Give them credit; they won back-to-back championships. I never take anything away from a champion."
The Pistons will always be a part of Magic's story
Magic made 9 trips to the Finals throughout his career and walked away an NBA champion on five occasions, but the Pistons were able to spoil the party in 1989. Detroit also won the following year, downing Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trailblazers 4-1 in 1990.
To this day, Magic remains one of the most respected figures that's ever played in the NBA. His grace while donning the Los Angles Lakers' purple and gold will live long in the memory of any NBA enthusiast, and his respect for his opponents rewrote what it meant to be an NBA legend.