Magic Johnson Vs Michael Jordan Who Is Better 2022

Difference Of Magic Johnson Vs Michael Jordan: Who Is Better 2022

In this blog, we will compare and contrast the two greatest basketball players of all time: Magic Johnson vs. Michael Jordan. Both players had successful careers, but there are a few key differences between them. 

For example, Magic Johnson was known for his unselfish play and ability to make his teammates better, while Michael Jordan was more of a scorer and isolation player. We’ll take a closer look at both players’ careers and see who comes out on top in this battle of the ages.

Let’s find out with RedsArmy

Magic Johnson vs Michael Jordan

magic vs jordan

NBA Championships and Seasons

Magic Johnson Michael Jordan
NBA Championships 5 6
NBA Seasons 13 15
Playoffs Played 13 13
All-Star Games 12 14

Honors and Awards

Magic Johnson Michael Jordan
Season MVP 3 5
Finals MVP 3 6
All-NBA First Team 9 10
All-NBA Teams 10 11
All-Defensive 1st Team 0 9
All-Defensive Teams 0 9
Defensive Player 0 1
Scoring Leader 0 10
Assists Leade 4 0
Steals Leader 2 3
Rookie of The Year 0 1

Offensive Comparison

Offensive comparison

Michael Jordan was one of the NBA’s most lethal scorers. His career scoring average of 30.1 points is the greatest of all time, and he also averaged 33.4 points per game in the playoffs (second only to Luka Doncic’s 33.5 points per game).

MJ’s slicing and midrange game were both excellent.

Magic Johnson, on the other hand, was not as effective as a scorer. His ball distribution, on the other hand, was phenomenal, and he’s one of the finest playmakers in history.

Jordan’s score versus Johnson was spectacular, but Johnson had an advantage in including his teammates. Furthermore, Magic was considerably more selective with his shots, which explains his excellent shooting %.

Magic’s best performance against Jordan was 31 points, while Michael had two 40-point games against him.

When it comes to assists, Jordan recorded 16 versus the Lakers in 1989, whereas Johnson’s career-best against MJ was 17.

Defensive Comparison

Defensive comparison

Johnson was a decent defender, yet some fans and commentators thought his worst flaw was his defense.

Jordan is widely regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders of all time. He was the Defensive Player of the Year and the steals leader three times. Jordan’s defense was smothering throughout his career, and his encounters with Magic were no exception.

According to the graph above, Jordan totally destroyed Johnson on defense.

While his shot-blocking was adequate, Jordan’s fast hands and quickness allowed him to average more than two thefts each game. He got six thefts in one of these contests.

Jordan versus. Johnson in the Playoffs

Jordan versus. Johnson in the playoffs

The two players only met in the playoffs once, in the 1991 NBA Finals, when the Bulls defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

Jordan totally outplayed Johnson in the finals, averaging a double-double in points and assists.

The series demonstrated why Jordan is regarded as the greatest player of all time. Jordan was not as successful with ball distribution and scoring versus the Magic during the regular season.

NBA Playoffs Stats

Stats Per Game
Magic Johnson Michael Jordan
Points Per Game 19.5 33.4
Rebounds Per Game 7.7 6.4
Assists Per Game 12.3 5.7
Steals Per Game 1.9 2.1
Blocks Per Game 0.3 0.9
Best Playoffs (no game minimum)
Magic Johnson Michael Jordan
Points Per Game 25.2 (1990) 43.7 (1986)
Rebounds Per Game 13.7 (1981) 7.9 (1997)
Assists Per Game 15.2 (1985) 8.5 (1985)
Steals Per Game 3.1 (1980) 2.8 (1990)
Blocks Per Game 1.0 (1981) 2.3 (1987)

Career Statistics


Other than the plain boxscore statistics, the advanced statistical categories provide a more in-depth study of Michael Jordan vs. Magic Johnson’s figures, enabling us to analyze each player’s talents and production, as well as their respective contributions to their teams.


When we compare Michael Jordan’s regular-season career data against Magic Johnson’s, we observe that Michael Jordan leads in Value Over Replacement Player, box plus-minus, win share, usage%, Player Efficacy Rating, points, blocks, steals, three-point percentage, minutes played, and the game played.

While Magic Johnson leads in true shooting percentage, turnovers, assists, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, free throw percentage, effective field goal percentage, two-point percentage, and field-goal percentage. Overall, Michael Jordan stands out in 15 categories, compared to Magic Johnson’s 11 in total.

Per Season

magic vs Michael

Michael Jordan leads in Value Over Replacement when comparing his 1985 season to Magic Johnson’s 1980 season. Player, box plus-minus, win share, use%, Player Efficiency Rating, minutes played, points, personal fouls, blocks, free-throw%, free-throws, the number of two-pointers made, minutes played, and the game played statistics.

Both players have the same amount of thefts and three-pointers made, while Magic Johnson leads in true shooting percentage, turnovers, assists, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, effective field goal percentage, two-point percentage, three-point percentage, and field-goal percentage. Overall, Michael Jordan is featured in 25 as opposed to Magic Johnson’s 19 appearances.

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The outliers against Johnson are few, but when you examine the names, it makes sense. From five titles to MVPs to simply being a terrific player, Johnson’s legacy goes on. He found a way to triumph against some of the finest names in the game.

This is Magic Johnson’s career record versus some of the greatest NBA luminaries.

Michael Jordan – 18 Games, 7-11 (38.8%)

Michael Jordan

  • 19.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 11.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 52.2 FG%, 43.3 3-PT% in regular season (6-7)
  • 18.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 12.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 43.1 FG%, 28.6 3-PT% in the playoffs (1-4)

If there was one player who was genuinely Johnson’s adversary, it was Michael Jordan. Jordan averaged more than 30 points per game versus Johnson’s squads throughout the regular season. Having said that, Johnson was compelled to adapt his style of play since the Bulls were one of the few teams against whom he shot very efficiently from three-point range.

The two faced once in the playoffs, in the 1991 NBA Finals. It was Jordan’s first championship at the time. It was Jordan’s first time getting past Isiah Thomas, Johnson’s close friend, and the Pistons. Jordan averaged 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists as the Bulls won the series.

Scottie Pippen – 14 games, 4-10 (28.6%)

Scottie Pippen

  • Regular Season: 18.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 10.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 51.8 FG%, 48.1 3-PT% (3-6)
  • Playoffs: 18.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 12.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.0 BPG, 43.1 FG%, 28.6 3-PT% (1-4)

Johnson has a losing record against only two players, both of whom played for the Chicago Bulls. One of those players was Scottie Pippen, with whom Johnson has the fewest victories among NBA luminaries. Despite the short sample size, Pippen was on numerous victorious Bulls teams versus the Lakers.

The Lakers and Bulls met in the NBA Finals in 1991, with the Bulls winning the title. Johnson left the NBA following the Finals due to his HIV diagnosis. Who knows if Johnson had stayed from 1992 until 1996?

Julius Erving – 28 games, 14-14 (50.0%)

Julius Erving

  • Regular Season: 19.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 11.0 APG, 0.8 BPG, 60.8 FG%, 16.7 3-PT% (6-6)
  • Playoffs: 18.9 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 9.4 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 51.0 FG%, 0.0 3-PT% (8-8)

Johnson is now facing some very formidable opponents. Julius Erving, who played his whole career for the Philadelphia 76ers, was one of them. Despite having two great defensive players in Erving and Moses Malone, Johnson was able to get the ball to the basket, shooting over 60% from the field. Having said that, his three-point shooting suffered greatly.

In 1982 and 1983, the two clashed in the NBA Finals. In 1982, the Lakers won the series in six games. The two teams met again in 1983 when the 76ers gained their revenge by sweeping the Lakers in four games. In the playoffs, Johnson never made a three-point shot against Erving.

Dennis Rodman – 20 games, 10-10 (50.0%)

Dennis Rodman

  • Regular Season: 23.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 49.1 FG%, 28.6 3-PT% (6-4)
  • Playoffs: 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 11.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 52.8 FG%, 27.3 3PT% (4-6)

Despite having the same winning % as Erving, Johnson had a slightly greater regular-season scoring average versus Rodman. Despite Rodman’s greater rebounding ability, Johnson has a good rebounding average against him. The matchup between the Lakers and the Pistons presented several difficulties for both clubs.

For openers, the Lakers and Pistons clashed in the NBA Finals in 1988 and 1989. The Lakers won the first match in 1988, but the Pistons won the rematch in 1989. Rodman was a dependable member of the “Bad Boys.” Despite having that formidable, physical presence in front of him, Johnson still converted nearly half of his attempts.

Moses Malone – 33 games, 17-16 (51.5%)

Moses Malone

  • Regular Season: 20.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 11.3 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 52.3 FG%, 34.4 3-PT% (16-10)
  • Playoffs: 18.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 10.3 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 39.6 FG%, 0.0 3-PT% (1-6)

Malone and Erving were teammates with the 76ers. As previously said, the Lakers and 76ers have some tough matchups. During the regular season, Johnson got the better of Malone a few times while averaging a decent stat line. It was a different story in the postseason.

Johnson’s field goal percentage dropped, and he never hit a three-point attempt. Because Malone was not a member of the 76ers at the time, the two did not meet in the 1982 NBA Finals. Having said that, when he joined the club the following season, he was able to defeat Johnson’s Lakers in four straight games.

George Gervin – 32 games, 18-14 (56.3%)

George Gervin

  • Regular Season: 18.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 10.5 APG, 3.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 54.0 FG%, 14.3 3-PT% (10-12)
  • Playoffs: 17.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 12.3 APG, 2.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 50.4 FG% (8-2)

Gervin defeated Johnson during the regular season. Despite nearly averaging a triple-double, Gervin was able to win two more games when the Spurs faced the Lakers. Johnson’s defense skyrocketed, averaging at least 3.0 thefts each game.

Johnson took over in the playoffs, losing only two games. The Spurs faced the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in 1982 and 1983. Gervin was unable to lead his club into the NBA Finals both times when the Lakers won the title in one of those series-clinching wins.

Isiah Thomas – 28 games, 16-12 (57.1%)

Isiah Thomas

  • Regular Season: 21.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 12.3 APG, 51.7 FG%, 11.1 3-PT% (12-6)
  • Playoffs: 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 11.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 52.8 FG%, 27.3 3-PT% (4-6)
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It was all love until the two players met on the basketball floor. Johnson and Thomas were well-known for being close buddies back in the day. When they suited up, it was all business, with Johnson holding the regular-season advantage with one of the highest-scoring performances among NBA superstars.

In the playoffs, the two clashed in the 1988 and 1989 NBA Finals. The Pistons came close to winning back-to-back titles. The series lasted seven games in 1988. The next season, the Pistons swept the Lakers in four games. They have to label this a real tie because no player earned Finals MVP when they played each other. In 1988, it was James Worthy, and in 1989, it was Joe Dumars.

Larry Bird – 37 games, 22-15 (59.4%)

Larry Bird

  • Regular Season: 19.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 11.5 APG, 49.6 FG%, 31.6 3-PT% (11-7)
  • Playoffs: 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 13.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 53.3 FG%, 40.0 3-PT% (11-8)

Back in the 1980s, the Celtics were a fearsome foe. Given the talent on both sides, having the Celtics or Lakers in the NBA Finals was sort of expected each year. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale were on one side, and Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were on the other. Steals and blocks were not routinely recorded at the time. Therefore such data are not available.

As good as Bird was, Johnson won the majority of their matches. This comprised 11 regular-season and postseason victories. Not to add, Johnson, defeated Bird twice in the playoffs.

Kevin McHale – 35 games, 21-14 (60.0%)

Kevin Mchale

  • Regular Season: 21.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 12.1 APG, 50.8 FG%, 28.6 3-PT% (10-6)
  • Playoffs: 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 13.5 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 53.3 FG%, 40.0 3-PT% (11-8)

Right on cue, Bird’s old teammate McHale is among Johnson’s victims. Because they both played for the Celtics, their winning % will be similar. It would have been the same if McHale had not missed two games versus the Lakers earlier in his career.

Johnson faced Bird and McHale three times throughout the playoffs. Once, in 1984, one game decided all three Finals matches. The Celtics won the 1984 NBA Finals in Game 7. The two teams played again in 1985 and 1987 when the Celtics won both titles, and Johnson was named Finals MVP in 1987.

Alex English – 57 games, 41-16 (61.4%)

Alex English.

  • Regular Season: 19.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 12.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 52.3 FG%, 25.4 3-PT% (35-15)
  • Playoffs: 14.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 14.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 51.4 FG%, 16.7 3-PT% (6-1)

Because the Lakers and Nuggets were in the same conference, they played one other regularly throughout the regular season. It was a matchup that English was surely not looking forward to. Johnson beat the Nuggets 35 times in 50 regular-season games.

The Lakers defeated the Nuggets in the first round of the 1987 playoffs. The most memorable encounter occurred in 1985 when the two clubs played in the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets have never reached the NBA Finals, with the exception of the 1985 conference finals, which the Lakers won in five games.

Dennis Johnson – 60 games, 38-22 (63.3%)

Dennis Johnson

  • Regular Season: 17.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 10.2 APG, 2.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 49.1 FG%, 33.3 3-PT% (19-13)
  • Playoffs: 20.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 12.3 APG, 2.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 53.1 FG%, 30.0 3-PT% (19-9)

Johnson, like English, regularly encountered Johnson. Magic has only played with Dennis Johnson 60 times. Magic won 38 of the 60 meetings or over two-thirds of the time. It didn’t matter if Johnson was with the SuperSonics, Suns, or Celtics. Magic found a way to win.

Magic had an identical amount of success in the playoffs. He also virtually won two-thirds of their matches there, averaging over 20 points each game. Overall, we can determine who the superior Johnson was in this fight.

Hakeem Olajuwon – 48 games, 30-18 (62.5%)

Hakeem Olajuwon

  • Regular Season: 21.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 12.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 49.7 FG%, 26.4 3-PT% (22-10)
  • Playoffs: 19.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 12.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 48.4 FG%, 20.0 3-PT% (8-8)

Olajuwon was just joining the league while Johnson was at his peak. Olajuwon’s career didn’t take off until the 1990s when the Rockets had their most success. Johnson was done with basketball after the end of the 1991 season, with the exception of a brief reunion in 1996. Johnson’s program was on in the 1980s, and he made it showtime.

Olajuwon once got past Johnson in the playoffs. The Rockets won the Western Conference Finals in five games to go to the NBA Finals in 1986. Had Johnson not left the league in the 1990s, that would have been an intriguing clash. Olajuwon’s victories in 1994 and 1995 may have been more difficult to get.

Karl Malone – 32 games, 21-11 (65.6%)

Karl Malone

  • Regular Season: 22.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 11.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 47.6 FG%, 34.0 3-PT% (17-8)
  • Playoffs: 18.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 50.0 FG% (4-3)

Malone joined the league in 1985 and, by his second year, was one of the league’s finest power forwards. When we look at this, we aren’t as willing to provide grace since Malone was just a touch ahead of his colleagues when he initially entered the NBA. Despite Malone’s All-Star level of ability, Johnson won two-thirds of their matches.

The two met once in the playoffs. It was the 1988 semifinals, and the series lasted seven games. Johnson did not attempt a single three-point shot and had one of the lowest rebounding totals among NBA superstars. The Jazz led the series 2-1, but the Lakers won Games 5 and 7 to take the series.

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John Stockton – 36 games, 24-12 (66.6%)

John Stockton

  • Regular Season: 21.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 11.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 47.3 FG%, 32.7 3-PT% (20-9)
  • Playoffs: 18.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 50.0 FG% (4-3)

Stockton joined the league in 1984. Therefore he had two more games of service time versus Johnson. This was a challenging battle against the Magic, as it was for his buddy Malone. To begin with, Johnson won 20 of their 29 regular-season matchups. With that and the series win in the playoffs, the Jazz was ready for Johnson to depart.

The Jazz had their most successful postseason run in the late 1990s. Johnson had left the league by that point. It’s difficult to stop someone when they’re making 50% of their shots on top of everything else.

Bernard King – 21 games, 15-6 (71.4%)

Bernard King

  • Regular Season: 20.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 10.4 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 55.6 FG%, 40.0 3-PT% (15-6)
  • Playoffs: none

Johnson has a winning rate of 70% or higher than four NBA legends. You wouldn’t want to call it a freebie, but let’s put it this way. The Lakers went into these meetings expecting to win.

The first clash is against Bernard King, who spent most of his career with the New York Knicks. The Knicks were not as competitive in the 1980s as they had been in the 1970s and 1990s. It was Johnson’s period, so he was certain to put up enormous statistics, especially when he visited New York. It was one of the rare occasions Johnson shot successfully from outside against King.

Clyde Drexler – 55 games, 40-15 (72.7%)

Clyde Drexler

  • Regular Season: 20.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 12.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 51.5 FG%, 32.9 3-PT% (28-9)
  • Playoffs: 20.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 12.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 48.9 FG%, 33.3 3-PT% (12-6)

Looking at this specific battle, Johnson’s performance may be his most remarkable. Clyde Drexler was no slouch in the league. There is a reason he is a Hall of Famer and the Portland Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer. That being stated, Johnson defeated Drexler 40 times out of 55 potential games, making this one remarkable statistic.

Johnson defeated Drexler in all three playoff games. Johnson was the one player Portland had to despise. In 1985, the Lakers won the playoffs in five games. The Lakers then eliminated the Trail Blazers in the first round in 1989 and 1991. To provide some background, the Trail Blazers made the NBA Finals in 1992, the first season without Johnson in the league.

Dominique Wilkins – 18 games, 14-4 (77.8%)

Dominique Wilkins

  • Regular Season: 20.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 13.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 52.0 FG%, 38.7 3-PT% (14-4)
  • Playoffs: none

Johnson played his best basketball against teams that included Dominique Wilkins. Aside from winning 14 of 18 regular-season games, Johnson shot 52.0% from the field and almost 40% from three-point range. It’s not his finest overall stat line, but it’s still rather efficient.

Because the Hawks were in the Eastern Conference, the two clubs never played in the playoffs. To meet, the Hawks would have had to reach the NBA Finals. Johnson was out of the league by the time Wilkins joined the Clippers and Spurs later in his career.

Charles Barkley – 15 games, 12-3 (80%).

Charles Barkley

  • Regular Season: 23.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 13.6 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 62.6% FG%, 48.0 3-PT% (12-3)
  • Playoffs: none

Only one player on this list was defeated 80% of the time, and that was Charles Barkley. Johnson not only defeated him four out of five times mathematically, but he also had one of the most efficient stat lines among NBA superstars. All of Johnson’s work was completed when Barkley was playing with the Philadelphia 76ers.

For starters, Johnson shot over 60% from the field, so you have to question who was even playing defense on him. Johnson hit over 50% from three-point range, despite not being a historically outstanding three-point shooter. When combined with his 23.3-point average, which is the most of any player on this list, Johnson annihilated Barkley-led teams.

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Who has more money, Magic Johnson or Jordan?

Michael Jordan’s net worth: Michael Jordan is a retired American basketball player, team owner, product endorser and entrepreneur. Michael Jordan’s net worth is $2.2 billion. Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is a retired American basketball player and entrepreneur who has a net worth of $620 million

What was Michael Jordan’s record against Magic Johnson?

a 7-6 record

Michael Jordan had a 7-6 record versus Magic Johnson in his career.

Who is the best NBA player ever?

Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is widely known as the game’s greatest player—and for a good reason. “MJ” accomplished everything possible in the game, piling up on the stats and awards


In short, there is no clear winner between Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. They are both legends of the game and have had amazing careers. However, if we had to choose one, we would say that Magic Johnson is the better player. He was a more versatile player and made his teammates better.

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