Kevin McHale on the difference between Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan: "Larry and Magic can control the game with 10 shots"

kevin mchale on the difference between larry bird, magic johnson, and michael jordan:

larry-bird-magic-johnson-michael-jordan

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson are three of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale will attest to that, having played in their era.

McHale won three championships with Bird and competed against Jordan and Magic during his storied NBA career. When comparing the three, he talked about how Larry and Magic could impact the game even without scoring.

"Here's the difference between those guys, and I saw it many, many times," explained McHale. " Larry and Magic could control the game by taking 10 shots. They'd have 17 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals if you got Michael Jordan take 10 shots, you control him,"

Magic and Larry had better all-around numbers

Many consider the UNC product the best player to ever play the game. But while he may be the GOAT, much of Mike's value came from his uncanny ability to score points. During his 15-year NBA career, MJ was a 10-time NBA scoring champion. He also retired with the highest playoff scoring average in the league's history.

But while His Airness could rebound and pass the ball, too, he wasn't as prolific as a rebounder as Bird was or a passer as Magic was. Larry Legend averaged a 24.3-10.0-6.3 during his career, while the Lakers great put up a 19.5-7.2-11.2 stat line during his NBA tenure. For comparison's sake, MJ was 30.1-6.2-5.3 in the league.

Magic and Bird's versatility can also be seen in the NBA's all-time triple-double list. Johnson ranked 3rd overall with 138, while Larry Legend is No.10 with 59. Despite playing more games than both, Jordan only registered 28 career triple-doubles.

MJ wasn't asked to do what Magic and Larry did

However, while the numbers do not favor Mike in that comparison, that doesn't mean the other two were better. The only reason the Chicago legend didn't post the same numbers as the '80s rivals is that he wasn't asked to do what they did for their teams. MJ's Bulls coach, Phil Jackson, once talked about this while comparing him to Kobe Bryant.

"I never asked Michael to be a playmaker," Jackson said. "That's the greatest player that I've ever had, that I could consider the greatest player in the game, and I never asked him to be a playmaker in those terms. I asked him to be a playmaker when he was doubled or tripled."

Phil did not ask MJ to be a primary rebounder, as he had Pippen, Grant, and others do those things for the Bulls. Mike's main focus was getting the points as the primary scorer. McHale is theoretically right when he says that you control him if you limit MJ to 10 shots. But given that scoring was his primary role on the Bulls, which NBA team held Jordan to only 10 shots per game?

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