What If Magic Johnson Had Played His Career with the Chicago Bulls?

Mike B.Correspondent IMay 21, 2010

You can't have a discussion about the 1980's Los Angeles Lakers without mentioning the name Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The former Michigan State star led the team to five NBA titles during the decade, teaming up with the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

However, Johnson in Lakers purple and gold almost didn't happen.

In 1979, years before the draft lottery, the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls participated in a coin flip for the top overall pick. The Lakers won and selected Johnson, while the Bulls took UCLA forward David Greenwood.

Johnson went on to become the greatest point guard ever, while Greenwood turned out to be well, David who? No, seriously Greenwood did have a few solid seasons in the league, but he wasn't a Hall of Famer or even an All-Star like Johnson.   

Fortunately, the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan in 1984 and you know how the story goes.   

But imagine if Chicago won the coin flip and drafted Johnson. Supposedly, he stated that he would have remained in school rather than join the Bulls since the only reason he opted to go to L.A. was to play alongside Abdul-Jabbar.

Well, let's say he chose to play for the Bulls.

Johnson wouldn't have won a championship as a rookie like he did in Los Angeles. So that means no memorable 42 point, 15 rebound and seven assist Game Six in the NBA Finals.

Johnson however, still would have put together a brilliant rookie year in Chicago.

The Bulls would have sported a pretty solid trio of Johnson, Reggie Theus, and Artis Gilmore. Not quite a Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman, but nonetheless competitive in the early '80s.

Chicago may have never reached the Finals since they would've had difficulty getting past talented Eastern Conference teams like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit "Bad Boy" Pistons.

That said, Johnson just might have joined the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing as all-time greats whom never won a championship.

The Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rivalry probably still would have took place, but in the Eastern Conference playoffs instead of the Finals.

With Johnson not with the Lakers, the Celtics may have won a few more titles in the '80s. But then again, you never know who the Lakers would have acquired to team up with Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.

And it's also unclear what pieces Bulls management would have surrounded Johnson with. They likely wouldn't have been lousy enough to get the opportunity to draft Jordan or Pippen, so they might have landed Malone in 1985, who was the 13th pick.

Johnson and Malone paired together could have meant the Bulls win multiples titles, maybe even six like Jordan and co. brought to Chicago.

Who knows?

Maybe a statue of Johnson instead of Jordan gets built outside of the United Center and No. 32 hangs in the rafters instead of No. 23.

And with Johnson in Chicago, where does Jordan and Pippen wind up? MJ possibly lands out west with the Dallas Mavericks and maybe Pippen never gets traded by the Seattle SuperSonics.

There's a lot of things that could have happened if Magic had become a Bull.

But we'll never know.


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