While the main subject ESPN’s 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance” is the 1998 Chicago Bulls and, especially, Michael Jordan, the project dives deep into the background of the team and how it came to be.
This means a lot of talk about Jordan’s rivalries with the likes of Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons. It took Jordan many years to overcome Thomas and the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons and when he was finally able to do so, it was Magic’s Lakers awaiting him in the 1991 NBA Finals.
Meaning, Jordan had to face two of the best point guards ever in the same playoffs. As a matter of fact, they were the two best period as far as Jordan is concerned.
In the documentary Jordan spoke about Thomas and while he respects his game, does not put him above Johnson in his all-time point guard rankings:
“I respect Isiah Thomas’ talent. To me, the best point guard of all-time is Magic Johnson, and right behind him is Isiah Thomas.”
Thomas is undoubtedly talented and is one of the greats, but this is just more evidence of how truly amazing and groundbreaking Magic Johnson was. His game, at his size is just something that can’t be replicated, and his desire to win at all costs, even while having a smile on his face, was unlike anyone else. This is why he won five championships and made four other Finals with the Lakers.
For the most part, anyone who has ever seen Magic play considers him the greatest point guard, and one of the greatest players ever period. He is constantly on fans and players’ all-time lineups and many have him in their top five list for the greatest NBA player of all-time. But when the praise comes from the player who most consider the greatest ever, it just means a little bit more.
Jordan and Magic faced off many times, including an especially intense one during practices for the 1992 Dream Team so Jordan knows and respects what Magic can do. Of course Thomas and Jordan aren’t the best of friends and there is surely still some disdain on Jordan’s part for him, but even without those feelings, Jordan’s point guard ranking are right in line with most others.