I think the top 6 are basically right, including Magic over Bird.
Magic had essentially a 12 year career with 9 Finals appearances, during which he went 5-4. His teams went 2-1 in the Finals against Bird's Celtics. Bird, too, had essentially a 12 year career, and he made 5 Finals appearances and went 3-2, both losses vs Magic's teams.
I don't see the non-Boston-homer case that puts Bird above Magic.
If you want to discount Magic's 4 additional Finals appearances based on the West being an easier conference, that's reasonable. But I don't think we can discount the 1985 loss based on an injury to Cedric Maxwell. 1987 and Walton/McHale, sure. But Maxwell had clearly been surpassed by McHale at that point. If someone is to blame for that series loss, it has to be the player who injured his hand in a barfight before the series, which might have affected his performance. That would be Larry Bird. Also, if we're taking injuries into account, I think Magic needs to get some credit for playing center in the finals in his rookie year when Kareem was out.Some of that Finals gap was opportunity. Western Conference was markedly weaker than the East during that era. The Celtics were seriously hampered by injury in both 1985 (Maxwell) and 1987 when KC Jones drove the starters into the ground and McHale was playing on a broken foot. Bird was by far the better scorer; Magic was superior at running the offense. Magic was a better individual defender later in his career, but Bird's defense often gets overlooked some.
Magic's peak was perhaps; he had an outstanding rookie season (finished 2nd to Bird in RoY voting) and unbelievable Finals against the Sixers. He performed at a high level for 12 seasons, with only one of those, his second, shortened by injury. Bird's peak was 9 years, and he was never the same after he missed his 10th season after undergoing major heel surgery. Another fun fact is that Magic overaged 38 or more minutes twice; Bird averaged more than 38 minutes per game 9 seasons, leading the league in minutes per game twice.
I think the Celtic Rushmore has to be Russell, Havlicek, Bird, and Pierce. And the Celtics should already be seeking resumes to hire the guy who will carve Tatum in next to them.
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