Larry Bird inducting Magic Johnson
Larry Bird has agreed to a little 1-on-1 with Earvin (Magic) Johnson at this year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that Bird will formally induct Johnson at Springfield, Mass., on September 28.
"We are absolutely thrilled that Larry will present Magic," Basketball Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva said. "Two of the greatest players, rivals and friends will stand together at the enshrinement ceremony."
Though five other inductions will take place, the primary focus will be on Johnson and Bird, forever linked for their classic on-court duels.
"I am honoured to be presenting a person I have admired and looked up to during my whole career," enthused Bird, who was enshrined four years ago.
Bird and Johnson initially clashed in the 1979 NCAA Championship Game, with Johnson's Michigan State Spartans prevailing over Bird's Indiana Hoosiers.
Not surprisingly, the rivalry spilled over into their respective NBA careers.
Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers won five league titles, including two of three from Bird and the Boston Celtics.
The dynamic duo helped popularize the NBA to unprecedented heights and combined with Julius (Dr. J) Erving to define pro basketball in the 1980s.
Drafted first overall in 1979, Johnson was the first rookie named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player as the Lakers disposed of Erving's Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2 in 1980.
Over 13 seasons, he led Los Angeles to nine appearances in the NBA Finals.
Johnson was a consummate passer and spectacular playmaker who averaged 19.5 points and 11.2 assists in 906 games, all with the Lakers.
His 138 career triple-doubles remain an NBA record, while his 10,141 assists stand second only to John Stockton's 15,177.
Johnson retired from the NBA 1990-91 after contracting HIV, only to return to lead the United States to a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
He attempted a brief comeback with the Lakers in 1994-96, averaging a highly respectable 15.3 points, 8.5 rpg and 6.5 assists.
Johnson, a three-time NBA MVP and 12-time league all-star, was elected in his first year of eligibility.
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown, Arizona Wildcats head coach Lute Olson, North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Kay Yow, the late Drazen Petrovic and the Harlem Globetrotters will also be inducted.