College Stats: 17.1 PPG, 7.9 APG, 7.5 RPG, 46.3 FG%, 2 seasons
NBA Career Stats: 19.5 PPG, 11.2 APG, 52.0 FG%, 13 seasons
The second half of one of the most storied rivalries in NBA history, Magic Johnson was the person responsible for shattering Bird's championship hopes.
His play was flashy but very much under control. His smile could light up a room, but his elite-level talent could silence opposing arenas.
Johnson, a Michigan native, chose to play his college ball close to home and signed on as a member of the Michigan State Spartans.
During his freshman season, Johnson dazzled basketball minds with his ability to productively man the point guard spot at his size, 6'9". Despite a masterful effort from him, though, the Spartans were knocked out of the tournament in the Elite Eight by the eventual champion Kentucky Wildcats.
Johnson seemed determined to not meet the same fate and helped carry the Spartans all the way to the 1979 NCAA championship game against Bird's Indiana State squad. Many of Johnson and Bird's accomplishments had been missed on the national scale, as the media limitations of the time left many to follow their careers by brief clips and word of mouth.
The game didn't quite live up to its massive hype (the Spartans led by nine at the half, then cruised to an 11-point win), but its stars sure did. Bird finished the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome Johnson's 24 points and seven boards.
Johnson was taken with the top pick of the 1979 draft by the Lakers. Along with players like Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy, he helped lead the franchise to five NBA championships.