Unlike Larry Bird, Magic Johnson wasn’t going to just hand the torch over to Michael Jordan.

Old school basketball fans know it was during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona when the so-called passing of the torch between Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan took place. The Celtics legend even told Magic that they were the past and Jordan was the present. However, Jackie MacMullan revealed that fellow Dream Team player Chris Mullin “saw it coming long before that late-night debate.”

According to Mullin, Magic regularly egged Jordan on by flaunting his championships, and in one instance, Bird, who was tired of hearing it from the Los Angeles Lakers legend, “rolled his eyes” out of being fed up.

“A lot of times Larry was either riding the stationary bike or stretching, and he’d be like, ‘It’s over, dude,’” Mullin remembered via The Ringer. “But God bless Magic for hanging on, though.”

Magic felt different about it
Mullin further noted that Magic didn’t have to say it but judging by the legendary point guard’s demeanor, it was easy to see that his refusal to hand the game over to Jordan had something to do with “respect.”

While Mullin, and perhaps no other player other than Bird, couldn’t comprehend why Magic was so adamant to take a step back and make way for Jordan, everybody knew who was running the show at the time.

“There was a respect factor with Magic, as well, like he was not going to just hand it over to Michael, but it was clear as day at that point in time who the best player in the world was, and it was not close,” Mullin added.

MJ was willing to take it
Jordan never beat Bird in the playoffs. However, that wasn’t the case with Magic as MJ ,and the Chicago Bulls thumped the Lakers to win the chip in 1991. Before heading to Barcelona in ’92, Michael led the Bulls to back-to-back NBA titles.

Needless to say, Mullin was right when he said that it was evidently Jordan’s time, and “His Airness” let Bird and Magic know in the ‘92 Olympics that if they wouldn’t give it to him, he’d be glad to take it.

“Michael gets very upset and says, ‘Listen. I’m telling you, Larry, and I’m telling you, Magic: if you don’t quit, every time I see you next year, I am busting your ass,’” Ahmad Rashad, MJ’s close friend, once revealed.

Fortunately, Bird never played another NBA game after the Barcelona Olympics. Magic, meanwhile, had to retire because of HIV and came back in 1995 as a shell of himself. Had they gone on and continued playing, who knows what Jordan would’ve done to them?