Magic Johnson is and has always been my favorite basketball player. Ever. So when I had the chance this week to attend an intimate conversation between two NBA legends, Pat Riley and Magic Johnson, I was beyond thrilled. This was a dream night.
The hour-long conversation was moderated by ESPN’s Cari Champion and is part of a larger American Express NBA series called Teamed Up, and the discussion highlighted the duo’s amazing careers — together and separately — and of course had them recalling some of their most memorable moments with the Showtime Lakers.
They also shared their thoughts on this year’s NBA Finals. Riley claimed Magic would beat Lebron in a game of one on one, which you can watch below. (Of course, Magic is more complimentary of Lebron than himself, but we’ll get to that later.)
Pat Riley says Magic Johnson would beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one. It’ll make sense when you hear him explain why. pic.twitter.com/4p64MJsSJp
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 6, 2017
It was a special night for me because I grew up in Los Angeles and discovered my own sports fandom when the Showtime Lakers were huge. I’m just old enough to remember watching those last two NBA playoff runs with my dad, but I was also young enough that Magic wasn’t just a guy to me. He was a superhero, my Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man all rolled into one. He was Magic, but he was also magic — in the sense that my kindergarten-aged mind could barely comprehend the feats of athleticism and skill he displayed on a nightly basis. Plus, The Forum in Inglewood wasn’t too far from where I lived in Compton, before the Lakers moved downtown to the Staples Center.