Back in 1996, in conjunction with the year-long celebration of "The NBA at 50," NBA Entertainment conducted a number of interviews with some of the most memorable and influential personalities of the NBA's first half-century. Now, the full, uneditied transcripts of those interviews have been made available exclusively to NBA.com!

Named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, Magic Johnson was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. Below is part two of his interview, The Lakers-Celtics Rivalry.

Q: The way you came into the league, and the storybook rivalry with the Celtics was like a movie in a sense.

Magic: Without a doubt. Every game, every day, every score. What he scored, how many rebounds, how many assists. The person you measured yourself against was Larry Bird, for me. I made sure he wouldn't get too far out in front of me. I had to keep him in sight. I mean if he went out and got a high triple-double, I had to go out and get a high triple-double. If he went out and had a big game in rebounds, maybe 20 rebounds, then I had to get 20 assists.

I think we kept our eyes on each other and the bad thing about it was, not only for ourselves but for the fans too, that we only played the Celtics twice. I can tell you, when that game was coming up, two or three weeks out, people were prepared. And with both cities, just as soon as we hit town, it was like the devil hitting town. It was like, uh oh the devil is here! The baggage guys at the airport, "Oh Magic! Larry is going to kill you tomorrow!” Or, “There's no Magic here! This is Larry Bird’s town!" And here comes the guy with the sleeves rolled up, and you know he’s got the cigarettes right there and he'll come and say, "Larry is going to do you in!" And you had to wait for the bags. In those times there were no private planes so you had to walk through the airport. We had to wait on our own bags and see and we had to take all this abuse. In Boston you had to walk a long way so everybody -- the ice cream man, the cookie person, everybody (had a comment)! When we walked through, the whole place, you know how airports are and everybody talking -- silence! (Whispers) "Here are the enemy! Here come the Lakers!"

It was incredible and in Boston, you come around and you'd have to stop, go through that tunnel thing you know. We had cab drivers beeping the horns around the buses, "We are going to get you!" So it was so intense, I mean everybody. When they came into L.A., the same thing happened to them, they (Laker fans) just said it a different way.

But I'm talking about intensity, the crowd. That was the only game that the L.A. crowd came early for. Packed! Everybody! When we played them at 7:30, they (the fans) were there at 6:30. Packed! Just the boos! “Boo!” Because of what the Celtics had done to the Lakers for many years. I loved it. I loved it. I loved coming into the Boston Garden and the old building and the championship banners and the atmosphere and the aura and seeing Red sitting up there, and John Havlicek and just knowing that the crowd…you could just feel the crowd. I mean everybody sweating and the game is still half-hour or hour away! Everyone is just sweating, anticipating this game and what's going to happen and that pressure was so wonderful! Oohhh! Come on take me back! Larry where are you? Let's go! (laughs).

It was the highest level of basketball that I've ever played. You didn't sleep before you played the Celtics. You were so excited. You were playing the game before the game was actually going to be played. You were wondering what Larry Bird was going to do, Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale. I mean wow, that’s basketball. Oh man!

Q: In 1984, you and Larry were finally able to meet in the Finals. Were you aware of how big the rivalry was?

I think you are aware that it was big, but you were not aware that it was so big. Up until the ratings came out, you really didn't understand. I mean you got caught up in Celtics -- Lakers, the game itself. You didn't know the whole country was watching. It didn't matter if they were a Laker fan or a Celtic fan, they knew they were tuned into the world's greatest basketball game and series because they were going to see the greatest basketball that you've ever going to see. Great offense, great defense. Great individual offense, defense. Shotblocking. Dunks. Unbelievable passes. But that was from both sides.

Then you had stars within stars. Take Larry and myself out of it, Kareem and Parrish… oooohhhhh! I'm talking about a battle! That was a battle! Even if you didn't cheer for Magic or Bird, you got Parrish and you got Kareem. Then ok, you don't want them, no problem. We got Kevin McHale, Jamaal Wilkes. We got James Worthy. We got Michael Cooper. They got Danny Ainge, D.J., on and on. These guys that the Celtics had that you could say, “Man! I'm cheering for him. I'm cheering for Greg Kite, a hero coming off the bench.” You see what I'm saying? You were captivated by something, somebody or just a play of great basketball or just to see two teams go at each other so hard that they left nothing in the locker room. That's why I play those tapes over and over again. Because you're watching beautiful basketball.

Q: In 84, you guys lost a tough series. Being a leader of that team, how did it feel and what was that following summer like?

Magic: It didn't sit well because I pride myself as being one of the best players that played in this game in the clutch situation, in the pressure situation, and I didn't come through for my team. I let the clock run out when the game was tied. We didn't get a shot up and they ended up beating us. Game 7, some turnovers that led to, their victory basically.

I could always remember what made my summer so bad and one of the worst ever was that I could see M.L. (Carr) still waving that doggone towel. Just waving it and waving it. Cedric Maxwell, he was just talking the whole series. The last but not least thing that I remember was that we won Game 1, we had a chance to win Game 2, but we throw the inbounds pass and Gerald Henderson intercepts it and I remember it as if it was yesterday. And we had them, but he'll go and score and eventually they go on to win Game 2. I can remember Kevin McHale clothes-lining Kurt Rambis.

So there were a lot of things that you remember and all throughout the summer you remember the Boston fans rocking our bus just to let us know that we just got beat. The next day in the papers, reading the stories that we could never beat Boston. And I had never lost in a situation like that so I didn't know how to handle it. It was a bad summer for me. Mentally I don't already deal with defeat, I dont' deal with losing well and this was compounded by me not playing well.

That was the first time I had a chance to cry after the game and really, really say ,"Man! That was my fault, I'm sorry." But I think it was a thing that made me grow up too. It made me grow up as a basketball player and grow up as a man, because the whole year you had to live with that and the Celtics don't let you forget. (laughs) They will remind you that they are the world champions and that they beat the Lakers, but I remember that hot box. I mean it was hot! They beat us, no excuses.

Q: The following year you got your revenge.

Magic: Well we wanted the Celtics. We didn't care about nobody else nor did we worry about nobody else. Of course we were rooting for the Celtics. We watched every Eastern Conference game they played. We were cheering them on. We didn't want to play Philly and we don't want to play Detroit. We wanted to play the Celtics. The fans wanted to see it, the players on both sides wanted that game and we got what we wanted.

We started off, not too well. Boy that first game, man, 46, 47 points they beat us by? They call it the “Boston Massacre.” I mean everybody played well. Every guy on their bench played well. I think Greg Kite had more points than our leading scorer! Off the bench he did! Scott Wedman came in killing us. I mean everybody.

We had to sit there and watch this and take this so the next day, Pat Riley walks in and he went right down the line. And he got on us and he drilled us so bad. We already felt this small and he made us feel like nothing. He made us watch that game like three times. Can you imagine getting beat by 46, 47 points and having to watch that three times? Over and over and over again? Seeing Larry Bird hit shot after shot after shot? You know, it was driving us crazy but I think that was the best thing that happened to us. Kareem had a bad game Game 1. And the next day in the papers, in Boston the papers said, "Kareem is over" and boy the old man came back strong. I think he scored 30 something points and we won in Game 2. Came back in our place and we won Game 3. D.J. hits an unbelievable shot to win Game 4. We win Game 5 and we said it would only be fitting to go back to Boston and beat them on their home court because it has never been done before. Before we got on the plane we called everybody up and told them,”Only one set of clothes. We're not coming back. We're not going to a Game 7. We're coming back right after Game 6. Everybody take only one set of clothes.” I think from there that is what got us going.

Q: Game 6, Boston Garden, no one has ever beaten them there and now Larry Bird is even with you.

Magic: Oh of course! Larry Bird and I talk about championships. I got him once, he got me once. But I think we were remembered that sour taste, that bitter taste that was in our mouth from the year before. We remembered the fans pouring on the court. We remembered M.L. and the towel. I think of all those things that we remembered in the past years that made us feel the lowest that we ever felt. We didn't want that to happen again. We wanted a taste of victory. We wanted to finally beat the Celtics and we weren't just playing for ourselves -- we were playing for all the other Laker teams that never beat the Celtics. Playing for all the fans of the Lakers that had never tasted victory from beating the Celtics.

We had a lot going for us. We came out and we played hard. The thing that got us the victory was that we ran for four quarters. Even though they were ahead we kept the pressure on them and we felt that we could wear them down. And in the fourth quarter, Kareem started making plays and we started riding the big man and boy when that clock sounded we were so elated. I don't think that we were elated just because we beat the Celtics, we were elated that it finally happened.

I didn’t sleep for two weeks (during the series). I finally can get a good night’s sleep (at series end) because when you played the Celtics, it is a 24-hour thing. You're constantly thinking because you don't have an edge. That’s the thing about Larry, you know that if the game is close and they got the ball, or you don't have a lead, Larry Bird can win the game. He was the one player that scared me the most. I didn't fear anybody but I feared Larry because I knew that he could win. And I knew his will to win was just as high as mine and that was strange. That kind of threw us in a loop but it was all good.

We finally did it and it was bedlam all over the place. The Laker fans, us players, we were all going crazy and then they stopped our celebration. They told us we had to see the president. We didn't want to go see the president! We wanted to go home and party!

Q: Can you tell about the differences of how you and Larry were portrayed in the media? Magic: I think it depends on how you look at it -- from the public side of it, from the media side. I think that the you know I was the city slicker, the Hollywood-type of guy and he was this down-home guy. He was this guy from the back of the woods. He was a hardhat player, a hard worker and I was this flash…a lot of flair. That was how we were portrayed early.

Larry was better than I was early because he had the opportunity to carry his team. And I didn't get a chance to show that I could do that early because we had dominant players and people thought that I couldn't really dominate. They said I was a good player but they didn't think I was a great player. So then, Pat Riley gave me an opportunity to say, “Ok, it's my team now.” Kareem would say, “You know, I’m getting old. You take it over.” Then I got a chance to show that I could dominate and that I wasn't just a flair guy. I was a student of the game. I was smart. I worked hard. I played hard. I didn't have all the flair that they thought I had, but I knew I could no-look and all that but that was only at certain times.

Then they also saw Larry, he was from down home, from Indiana, that whole thing but Larry was a fun guy too. He had a sense of humor. I think we both changed the way the media, the fans looked at us. We really came together because I'm from Michigan, he's from Indiana. You know we both are into our families. We both liked to go and get away from people when we are not on the court. So you know people started to say, “Man they have a lot of likes.” They used to say that we were not alike and then they found out that we were much alike. So I like being compared to Larry because it puts me in a place where I want to be as a player. I like the fact that we came in together because it gave me the sense of shooting for the stars and I knew that I had to play every single night to keep up with Larry bird in the East. To shoot 300 or 400 jumpers a day because I knew that he was in French Lick doing the same thing. I could never relax because I knew Larry was working.