Ahmad Rashad Details Heated Michael Jordan-Magic Johnson Debate at '92 Olympics

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

FILE - In this July 31, 1992, file photo, the United State's
Susan Ragan/Associated Press

Thanks to The Last Dance, we already know by the time 1992's Dream Team practices rolled around, Michael Jordan believed himself to be the new "sheriff" of the NBA and went about proving it—most notably in a hallowed Monte Carlo scrimmage.

Ahmad Rashad, who was following the team as a journalist, recalled one particular argument between Jordan and Magic Johnson in a tweet posted Tuesday:

Ahmad Rashad @NBATVAhmad

Memorable “stuff” from dream team ⁦@espn⁩ #LastDance https://t.co/2NJNEjEbgI

"Michael and Magic got into it," Rashad said. "They were talking back and forth with each other, and it was really funny. I was sitting over there with Larry Bird and we were just watching. Then finally, Michael gets very upset and says, 'Listen, all I'm telling you—I'm telling you, Larry, and I'm telling you, Magic—if you don't quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass. When I come to your arena, I'm busting your ass. I'm warning you right now, you better quit.'

"So after time went by, Larry Bird finally just looks over at Magic and says, 'You know, you and I were then, and Michael Jordan is now.'" 

The point made by Bird was more than valid. By 1992, Bird was on the precipice of retirement as his back began to break down. Johnson was one year removed from his own retirement after being diagnosed with HIV. Neither player was anywhere near their peak on the Dream Team, whereas Jordan was arguably at his apex, having won two straight Finals MVPs.

Jordan would solidify his separation from Magic and Bird with his second three-peat with the Bulls, but there was a fair argument to the GOAT slot. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bird and Magic were all three more accomplished than Jordan to that point in MJ's career, so it's understandable that Magic wanted to defend his position among the all-time greats.