From Dec. 28, 1979, to Feb. 16, 1992, the Lakers and the Celtics played 45 games: 26 in the regular season and 19 in the playoffs. There were five games in which Bird played but Magic didn't, including one last season after Magic retired upon discovering that he was HIV-positive. There were two in which Magic played and an injured Bird didn't. And there was one game—Feb. 19, 1989—that was Magic-less and Bird-less, as will be all future Boston-Los Angeles games, both men having firmly called it quits before this season began.
In the other 37 games—31 of which I was privileged to witness—the Lakers beat the Celtics 22 times. The teams met three times for the NBA championship, and L.A. won twice. And so the ultimate bragging rights fall to Magic. Says Bird, "I can still see him in my head, coming up court, faking right, faking left, then pulling it back and laying it in. Still pisses me off."
Magic also won 5 titles to Bird's 3. As for Lakers-Celtics bragging rights, we still own those. But what happens over the course of the next two years will have a lot to do with who owns those rights going forward.