Former basketball legend Magic Johnson was named the 10th Greatest Player in NBA History. He has had an amazing career of stellar play, powerful rivalry, and massively impactful social change.
When Magic was confirmed to play in a game, the NBA lines would change to match the legend’s prowess. Let’s tell you why.
The Early Life Of Magic
Johnson grew up as 1 of 9 children. His family were working class people with a strong work ethic. His father, Earvin Senior, would collect the garbage throughout the week, and Magic would join him to help bring the wages in. It gave him the nickname “Garbage Man” by unkind children on his block.
When Magic had time away from work and school, he would spend it on the court. His family had an athletic history, as his father played basketball for his Mississippi high school.
When Earvin Jr joined the 8th grade, he was seriously considering basketball as a career, and why wouldn’t he when he dominated the games.
The Choices Made In College
Johnson was scouted for both UCLA and Indiana, because of his basketball skill, but he turned them down to play for Michigan State – close to his family.
At this point in his life, Johnson resigned to be a sports commentator and was ready to give up on his dream as a professional player. But when Michigan State qualified for the NCAA Tournament and faced Indiana State in the championship, all that changed.
The opposition was led by Larry Bird, a name Johnson wouldn’t forget. Michigan won the game and Johnson was voted the Most Outstanding Player.
A Rookie Season To Remember
In 1979, Johnson was picked first overall, a feat that very few people can claim. He was picked by the Lakers, which meant Johnson got to play alongside his hero Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
At the end of the season, Magic had an 18 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and 7.3 apg average. He was also named the NBA All-Star Game starter and was selected to play in the NBA All-Rookie Team.
3 Years Of Ups And Downs
Due to a cartilage injury in 1980, Magic had to sit out of 45 games. He admitted that this stage in his life was the most depressed he had ever been.
In his time off, Johnson hadn’t been able to change with the team. When he was brought back in the 1981 to 1982 games, teammate Westhead said Johnson was slowing down the team and making them predictable.
In 1992 Johnson was chosen for the U.S national basketball team. It will be filled with NBA stars, which is why it was nicknamed the “Dream Team”.
Johnson helped win gold!
A Rivalry With Larry Bird
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson first met in the 1979 NCAA final. They were good friends, but their rivalry was one that hooked everyone. Bird joined the Celtic, which meant the contrasts were even bigger – Lakers Vs Celtics, Showtime vs Blue Collar, Black vs White.
When these two played against each other, everyone would watch.
The Legacy Of An NBA Star
By the end of Magic Johnson’s career, he had played in 905 games. Overall that brought him to 7,707 points, 6,559 rebounds, and 10,141 assists.
Bringing that to an average, Magic earned 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 11.2 apg.
Magic was and still is the record holder for the largest number of assists in a single game – 24. He also has the most playoff assists record – 2,346. And he is still the only player to average 12 assists in the NBA finals.
Awards And Honors To Fill A Museum
Throughout his career, Magic has brought home every award he could.
He is a 5 time NBA Champion (as a player only). He won the NBA MVP 3 times, and 3 times again as the Finals MVP.
Magic is a gold medal Olympian and entered the Hall of Fame twice. Once for his Olympic run and another for his general play.
Outside of Basketball, Johnson has done a lot for the North American public. Having announced his positive HIV status in 1991, Magic showed the world that HIV isn’t a “gay plague”.
Anyone can get the disease, so everyone should be cautious. Magic joined the National Commission on AIDs, which brought more funding to HIV prevention – something overlooked before due to homophobia.
Johnson was a legend on the court and is still a legend in our politics.