When Bird and Magic played, winning was what mattered, even at the expense of friendships. The best example of this was when Magic was leaving the court after his Final Four practice and noticed Bird. When he tried to acknowledge him, Bird ignored him. His mind was on winning.
Now a days, this would never happen. We live in a culture where winning has lost importance. The classic example of this that's been played over and over is that of LeBron James. Instead of wanting to be better than all his adversaries, he chose to join his closest competitors on the same team. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Magic and Bird would have never done this. And they'd be the first to agree with that statement. To them, to be the best, you had to beat the best. And they realized they were the best in the game.
As a competitive person, this angers me to see players joining forces with their biggest competitors. To me, you aren't the best unless you beat the best. And for LeBron and Wade, it's not the same to them. Bird and Magic enjoyed playing each other. Bird said that he would check the paper every day to see how Magic did. Magic motivated him to play his best. They drove each other to perfection.
There are still a few who play like Bird and Magic. Kobe Bryant is one who comes to mind. He's one who doesn't talk with his opponents and one who chose to be "the guy" in Los Angeles when he resigned with them. And since, he has won titles while being "the guy" on the Lakers.
In my opinion, any title that LeBron and Wade win will have an asterisk on it. They didn't do it like anyone before them. When the going got tough, they decided that they were going to join their opponent. This also means that there may never be a rivalry as intense as the Bird-Magic rivalry. The intensity won't be matched. Winning doesn't mean as much to the players in today's game. It's a sad thing for a competitive person like myself, but facts are facts. The intensity
Magic and Bird brought is something that is foreign to players in the NBA now and likely won't ever be present in the game again.