Pat Riley has coached a lot of great players over his career, both with the famed Los Angeles Lakers and his super team with the Miami Heat. However, when looking at the greatest players to ever play in the NBA, it wasn't the recent debate over Michael Jordan and LeBron James that Pat Riley referenced when considering the GOAT of the NBA. Riley called magic johnson the greatest player of all time.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson never won the six NBA championships like Michael Jordan did but he did win five of them, which is still more than LeBron James.

While Jordan was the MVP of all six of his title runs, Magic was the MVP of three of his (1980, 1982, 1987) and was the MVP of the NBA three times in a four-year period (1987, 1989, 1990). From 1987 through 1992, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were the only two players to win the NBA MVP award.

Magic Johnson could have done more and continued to compete with Michael Jordan if his career hadn't ended prematurely when he developed HIV and left the NBA in 1992. Over his career, Johnson was a four-time assist leader, two-time steals leader, and is the NBA playoffs all-time assists leader. He also won a NCAA Championship in 1979.

Pat Riley on Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson played with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1979 till 1991.

Pat Riley coached the Lakers from 1981-1990, so the careers of the two men were tied to each other for most of Magic's NBA career. Outside of Magic, Riley coached names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Doc Rivers, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, and was President over a team with LeBron James.

With so many star players and Hall of Fame superstars, why did Pat Riley choose Magic Johnson as the greatest player of all time? Riley said that Johnson could score 30 points any game he wanted to and the Lakers would win that game. He said that Magic didn't have to score as many points as a Michael Jordan because of guys like Kareem and Worthy.

However, Pat Riley said that Magic Johnson was a winner and can handle the game to lead his team to victory. As a matter of fact, ignoring the contributions of Michael Jordan, Riley said that the only player he thinks compares to Magic is LeBron James. Pat said that LeBron and Magic have the same DNA and that both men are winners.

Magic Johnson seemed appreciative of the comments but he shook it off and had a thought of his own. After Pat Riley described what he had in common with LeBron James, Magic said that was why LeBron is the greatest player of all time. He said it rubs off on his teammates and James is "special."