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YouTube Gold: The Summer Michael Jordan Took Over The NBA

But he had to go through Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to do it

1991 NBA Finals: Game Five: Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers
 INGLEWOOD, CA - JUNE 12: Magic Johnson #32 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls during Game Five of the 1991 NBA Finals on June 12, 1991 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

By 1988, it seemed clear that the days of the US sending All-Star teams of college players to the Olympics was over. It wasn’t really practical to put together a group of teenagers who barely knew each other to take on experienced national teams.

By 1992, the rules and expectations had changed, and the US was now free to bring its very best players to Barcelona for the Olympics. Among them were Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Bird though was near the end and dealing with a crippling back issue. He literally had to get his spine realigned multiple times a week and spent a lot of gym time in Barcelona flat on his stomach to relieve the pain.

And Johnson had been diagnosed with HIV in November, 1991 and had retired. But he came back first for the All-Star game and then joined the Dream Team that summer.

He was astonishingly good despite the long layoff and his uncertain future but behind the scenes, Johnson had a bit of an issue with Michael Jordan, as Jordan was widely considered the best player in the game, pushing Johnson and Bird aside.

This was not easy for Johnson, who competed with Jordan in every possible way - on the court, card games, anything really - before conceding alpha status.

It’s a pretty fascinating video really, not least of all when Magic and Bird both, at the same time, pass their status as top dogs over to #23.