Have you ever had a professional athlete, or anyone for that matter, that you simply “Hate to Love, Love to Hate”!?!…..well Magic Johnson was that guy for me…..as I would always watch him play whenever I could…..cuz he was just in a league of his own, too good, especially being a big man in a point guard’s suit…..who performed special magic with the basketball in his hands. There have been only two true magicians of the hardcourt in my mind…..Magic Johnson and Pistol Pete Maravich…..as these guys saw the entire court front, back and sideways while moving at full speed…..as if they had eyes in the back of their heads too…..and their “eye to hand” control of a basketball was simply off the charts. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is like a brother of another mother to me …..cuz both of us grew up in homes with strong Christian Mothers…..and as a result of our upbringing, both of us remain strong Christians today…..however, when it comes to the realm of basketball…..while personally being a “basketball by-product” from the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s…..a time in the NBA which showcased the transformation of the game from a “controlled steady-paced old school disciplined game” into a “fast-paced up and down the court played above the rim game” laced with a heavy dose of showtime and posterization to punctuate the game as it has evolved to in 2023. My favorite NBA team throughout this entire transformation period was the Boston Celtics…..whose main rival and arch enemy was the Los Angeles Lakers…..as the Celts and the Lakers played each other in the NBA Finals 10 out of the 20 seasons from 1970 to 1990. As history has proved out, the “old school disciplined game”…..which had been played in the NBA basically since the league’s inception…..was basically “dying on the vine”, as public interest in the league was in serious decline with no foreseeable future…..and then Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were drafted by the Lakers and the Celtics respectively in 1979…..and the NBA was never the same again as it was before their rookie year…..when these two basketball phenoms would create a rivalry that would redesign the NBA game…..and its popularity would continue to soar for decades to come after their leaving playing the basketball courts of the NBA. So, this post is our story of the two players who brought magic and showtime to the NBA game…..and by the time his playing career ended in 1999, he and his arch rival Larry Legend had managed to redesign the NBA game…..which in turn made the league into the sustainable popular game that it is today…..as we tell the story of the man they call Magic.
NBA – 1979 To 1999 – NBA TV Highlights Documentary Special – “Magic Johnson: Ultimate Mixtape At His Best”
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American former professional basketball player…..who is often regarded as the greatest point guard of all-time…..after playing 13 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Following winning a national championship as a Michigan State Spartan in 1979…..Johnson was selected 1st overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers…..then led the team to five NBA championships during their Showtime era. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV…..but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game…..while winning the All-Star MVP Award…..when after protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years…..but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the 3rd and final time.
NBA – Documentary – 1999 -ESPN Sports Century Special – ” Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson: They Call Me Magic”
Johnson’s career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards…..three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards…..nine NBA Finals appearances…..12 All-Star games…..and nine All-NBA 1st Team selections. He led the league in regular season assists four times…..and is the NBA’s all-time leader in average assists per game in both the regular season (11.19 assists / game)….. and the playoffs (12.35 assists / game). He also holds the record for most career assists in the playoffs. Magic was a member of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team (“The Dream Team”)…..which won the Olympic gold medal in Barcelona. After leaving the NBA in 1991, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that traveled around the world playing exhibition games.
NBA – Documentary – 1979 To 1999 – NBA TV NBA Legends Special – “Magic Johnson: The Greatest Point Guard Ever to Play The Game”
Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996…..while being selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021….. and became a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame…..when he was enshrined in 2002 for his individual career…..and again in 2010 as a member of the “Dream Team”. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are well documented.
NBA – 2021 – NBA Special – “NBA Legends And Players Explain How SCARY GOOD Magic Johnson Was”
Since his retirement, Magic has been an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster, a motivational speaker and an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex as well. His public announcement of his HIV-positive status helped dispel the stereotype, still widely held at the time, that HIV was a “gay disease” that heterosexuals need not worry about…..plus his bravery in making this announcement was widely commended. Named by Ebony magazine as one of America’s most influential black businessmen in 2009, Johnson has numerous business interests which included being a part-owner of the Lakers for several years…..then being the team’s president of basketball operations from 2017 to 2019…..and he is also part of a group of investors that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012…..along with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014…..as well as part of the ownership group that established Los Angeles F.C. (LAFC) of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2017. During Johnson’s ownership of these teams, the Sparks won the 2016 WNBA championship…..while the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series…..and LAFC won the 2022 MLS Cup…..which when combined with his playing career and sports ownership career, Magic Johnson has 10 NBA championships….with five each as a player and as a minority owner of the Lakers.
NBA & Lifestyle – 2022 – Red Melting Snow Special – “NBA Legend Magic Johnson Lifestyle & Net Worth”
Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan, to General Motors assembly worker Earvin Sr. and school janitor Christine. Johnson…..who had six siblings and three half-siblings by his father’s previous marriage…..which were all influenced by their parents’ strong work ethic…..wherein his mother spent many hours after work each night cleaning their home and preparing the next day’s meals…..while his father did janitorial work at a used car lot and collected garbage, all while never missing a day at General Motors. Johnson would often help his father on the garbage route…..when he was teased by neighborhood children who called him “Garbage Man”.
NBA & Talk Shows – 2022 – Jimmy Kimmel Live – With Magic Johnson Talking About His Cocumentary “They Call Me Magic” + Being Kareem’s Rookie Servant + Signing a Contract in 1984 for $1,000,000/yr. for 25 years + Going to Night Clubs with Dr. Jerry Buss + His Friendship with Isiah Thomas + Returning to NBA After Finding Out He Had HIV + Michael Jordan Telling Him He Should Retire + As Co-Owner of the Dodgers He Comments on Clayton Kershaw being Pulled From a Potential Perfect Game et al
Johnson came to love basketball as a young man…..with his favorite basketball player being Bill Russell…..whom he admired more for his many championships than his athletic ability…..(which is why I consider Russ to be GOAT over MJ…..it’s simple, Russ 11 rings….MJ 6 rings)…..plus he also idolized players such as Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes…..for Magic practiced “all day”. Johnson came from an athletic family…..as his father played high school basketball in his home state of Mississippi…..when Johnson learned the finer points about the game from him…..while Johnson’s mother, originally from North Carolina, had also played basketball as a child…..when she grew up watching her brothers play the game.
NBA – 2020 – Clayton Crowley Special – “Making the Case For NBA G.O.A.T. – Magic Johnson”
By the time he had reached the eighth grade, Johnson had begun to think about a future in basketball…..while he had become a dominant junior high player having once scoring 48 points in a game. Johnson looked forward to playing at Sexton High School…..which was a school with a very successful basketball team and history that also happened to be only five blocks from his home…..but his plans underwent a dramatic change when he learned that he would be bused to the predominantly white Everett High School instead of going to Sexton, which was predominantly black. Johnson’s sister Pearl and his brother Larry had bused to Everett the previous year and did not have a pleasant experience…..as there were incidents of racism…..with rocks being thrown at buses carrying black students…..and white parents refusing to send their children to school. Larry was kicked off the basketball team after a confrontation during practice…..which prompted him to beg his brother not to play…..but Earvin did join the basketball team and became angry after several days when his new teammates ignored him during practice, not even passing the ball to him. He nearly got into a fight with another player before head coach George Fox intervened. Eventually, Johnson accepted his situation and the small group of black students looked to him as their leader. When recalling the events in his autobiography, My Life, he talked about how his time at Everett had changed him: “As I look back on it today, I see the whole picture very differently. It’s true that I hated missing out on Sexton. And the first few months, I was miserable at Everett. But being bused to Everett turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It got me out of my own little world and taught me how to understand white peole, how to communicate and deal with them.”
High School Basketball – 1974 Thru 1976 – TNT/Prudential Halftime Report Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: High School Footage”
Johnson was 1st dubbed “Magic” as a 15-year-old sophomore playing for Everett High School…..when he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. After the game, Fred Stabley Jr., a sports writer for the Lansing State Journal, gave him the moniker despite the belief of Johnson’s mother, a devout Christian, that the name was sacrilegious. In his final high school season, Johnson led Everett to a 27–1 win–loss record while averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per game…..while leading his team to an overtime victory in the state championship game. Johnson dedicated the championship victory to his best friend Reggie Chastine…..who was killed in a car accident the previous summer. He gave Chastine much of the credit for his development as a basketball player and as a person, saying years later, “I doubted myself back then.” Johnson and Chastine were almost always together, playing basketball or riding around in Chastine’s car. Upon learning of Chastine’s death, Magic ran from his home, crying uncontrollably. Johnson…..who finished his high school career with two All-State selections, was considered at the time to be the best high school player ever to come out of Michigan. He was also named to the inaugural McDonald’s All-American team, which played in the 1977 Capital Classic.
High School Basketball – 1977 – Michigan High School State Championship Game Highlights – Lansing Everett Vs Birmingham Brother Rice – Featuring Everett PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson Scoring 34 Points
Albeit Johnson was recruited by multiple top-ranked colleges such as Indiana and UCLA, he decided to play close to home…..when his college decision came down to Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing…..and he ultimately decided to attend Michigan State…..when coach Jud Heathcote told him he could play the point guard position…..plus, the talent already on Michigan State’s roster also drew him to the program.
High School Basketball – 1977 – Michigan High School Men’s Basketball Class A Finals – Lansing Everett Vs Birmingham Brother Rice
Johnson did not initially aspire to play professionally…..while focusing instead on his communication studies major and his desire to become a television commentator. Playing with future NBA draftees Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent, and Mike Brkovich…..the Spartans Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game as a freshman…..while leading the Spartans to a 25–5 record, the Big Ten Conference title and a berth in the 1978 NCAA tournament…..when the Spartans reached the Elite Eight…..but lost narrowly to eventual national champion Kentucky.
NCAAM Basketball – 1977 To 1979 – PockyCandy Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: The MSU Spartan Years”
During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA tournament…..when they advanced to the championship game and faced Indiana State…..which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever, Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64…..then Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was selected to the 1978–79 All-American team for his performance that season. After two years in college, during which he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, Johnson entered the 1979 NBA draft. Jud Heathcote stepped down as coach of the Spartans after the 1994–95 season, and on June 8, 1995, Johnson returned to the Breslin Center to play in the Jud Heathcote All-Star Tribute Game. He led all scorers with 39 points.
NCAAM Basketball – 1979 – National Championship Game Highlights – Michigan State Spartans vs Indiana State Sycamores – Featuring MSU PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson Vs. ISU PF Larry Bird
NCAAM Basketball – 1979 – National Championship Game – Michigan State Spartans vs Indiana State Sycamores (Full Game) – Featuring MSU PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson Vs. ISU PF Larry Bird
NCAAM Basketball – 2008 – National Championship Game Special – “Bird and Magic Talk About the 1979 NCAA Championship Game”
Johnson was drafted 1st overall in 1979 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson said that what was “most amazing” about joining the Lakers was the chance to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the team’s 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) center who became the leading scorer in NBA history (recently broken by Lakers LeBron James in 2023). Despite Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance, he had failed to win a championship with the Lakers…..and Johnson was expected to help them achieve that goal. Lakers coach Jack McKinney had the 6-foot-9-inch (2.06 m) rookie Johnson…..who some analysts thought should play forward …..be a point guard…..even though incumbent Norm Nixon was already one of the best in the league. Magic averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game for the season…..while being selected to the NBA All-Rookie Team…..and was named an NBA All-Star Game starter.
NBA – 1979 – Highlight Clip of the NBA Draft – Featuring L A Lakers Picking MSU PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson # 1
NBA – 1979 – NBA TV Special – 1st NBA Regular Season Game Highlights – L A Lakers VS San Diego Clippers – Featuring Magic Johnson’s Laker Debut & Kareem Abdule Jabbar’s Game Willing Sky Hook
NBA – 1979 -CBS With Brent Musburger Presents 1st NBA Regular Season Game Highlights – L A Lakers VS San Diego Clippers – Featuring Magic Johnson’s Laker Debut With 28 Pts. & Kareem Abdule Jabbar’s Game Willing Sky Hook
The Lakers compiled a 60–22 record in the regular season and reached the 1980 NBA Finals…..in which they faced the Philadelphia 76ers…..who were led by forward Julius Erving…..when the Lakers took a 3–2 lead in the series …..but Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 33 points a game in the series, sprained his ankle in Game 5 and could not play in Game 6. Coach Paul Westhead, who had replaced McKinney early in the season after he had a near-fatal bicycle accident, decided to start Johnson at center in Game 6…..when the man named Magic recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in a 123–107 win…..while playing guard, forward, and center at different times during the game. Johnson became the only rookie to win the NBA Finals MVP award…..while his clutch performance is still regarded as one of the finest in NBA history. He also became one of four players to win NCAA and NBA championships in consecutive years.
NBA – 1979 / 1980 Season – NBA Special – Los Angeles Lakers 1979/80 Documentary – “That Magic Season: Start Of a Dynasty”
NBA – 1980 – NBA Championship Series – L A Lakers Vs Philadelphia 76’ers – Game 6 Highlights – Featuring Magic Johnson With 42 Pts. 15 Reb and 7 Asst.
Early in the 1980–81 season, Johnson was sidelined after he suffered torn cartilage in his left knee…..which led to his missing 45 games…..as Magic said that his rehabilitation was the “most down” he had ever felt…..which is saying quite a great deal from the man with the golden smile. Johnson returned before the start of the 1981 playoffs…..but the Lakers’ then-assistant and future head coach Pat Riley later said Johnson’s much-anticipated return made the Lakers a “divided team”. The 54-win Lakers faced the 40–42 Houston Rockets in the 1st round of playoffs…..when Houston upset the Lakers 2–1 after Johnson air-balled a last-second shot in Game 3.
NBA – 1980 – NBA on CBS Pregame Special – “Brent Musburger + Hot Rod Hunley Pre-Game Interviews With Lakers Magic Johnson and Celtice Larry Bird Prior To Magic’s 1st Visit To The Boston Garden”
NBA – 1980 – NBA All Star Game Highlights Special – “Featuring Lakers Magic Johnson + Celtics Larry Bird as Rookies”
NBA – 1980 – NBA Special – “That Magic Season – 1980 NBA Los Angeles Lakers Championship Season” (Subtitulado en Español) – Featuring Rookie Sensation PG Earvin “Magic” Johnson
NBA – 1980 – CBS Sports Special – “1980 Los Angeles Lakers NBA Championship Trophy Presentation and Celebration” – Featuring Dr. Jerry Buss, Coach Paul Westhead, Coach Pat Riley + PG Magic Johnson
In 1981, after the 1980–81 season, Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers (equivalent to $75,000,000 in 2021), which was the highest-paying contract in sports history up to that point. Early in the 1981–82 season, Johnson had a heated dispute with Westhead…..who Johnson said made the Lakers “slow” and “predictable”. After Johnson demanded to be traded, Lakers owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead and replaced him with Pat Riley….and albeit Johnson denied responsibility for Westhead’s firing, he was booed across the league, even by Laker fans. Buss was also unhappy with the Lakers’ offense and had intended on firing Westhead days before the Westhead–Johnson altercation…..but assistant GM Jerry West and GM Bill Sharman had convinced Buss to delay his decision…..and despite his off-court troubles, Magic averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and a league-high 2.7 steals per game…..and was voted a member of the All-NBA 2nd Team. He also joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players to tally at least 700 points, 700 rebounds, and 700 assists in the same season. The Lakers advanced through the 1982 playoffs and faced Philadelphia for the 2nd time in three years in the 1982 NBA Finals. After a triple-double from Johnson in Game 6,…..and the Lakers defeated the Sixers 4–2…..as Johnson won his 2nd NBA Finals MVP award. During the championship series against the Sixers, Johnson averaged 16.2 points on .533 shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Johnson later said that his 3rd season was when the Lakers 1st became a great team…..and he credited their success to Riley.
NBA – 1981 / 1982 Season – Los Angeles Lakers 1981/82 Documentary – “Something To Prove” – Magic’s 2nd ‘CHiP
NBA & News – 1982 – CBS Sunday Morning With Ray Gandoff Special – “Magic Johnson: 24 Yrs Old and At The Top of The World”
NBA – 1981 – The Roy Firestone Show Special – “Magic Johnson: 1981 Special Feature”
NBA – 1981 – NBA All Star Game – Full Game – Featuring Tiny Archibald (MVP) + Larry Bird + Magic Johnson
During the 1982–83 NBA season, Johnson’s 1st of nine consecutive double-double seasons…..when he averaged 16.8 points, 10.5 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game…..and earned his 1st All-NBA First Team nomination….. while the Lakers again reached the Finals…..and for a 3rd time faced the Sixers…..who now featured center Moses Malone as well as Erving…..and with Johnson’s teammates Norm Nixon, James Worthy and Bob McAdoo all hobbled by injuries, the Lakers were swept by the Sixers…..and Malone was crowned the Finals MVP…..while in a losing effort against Philadelphia, Johnson averaged 19.0 points on .403 shooting, 12.5 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game.
NBA – 1982 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Special – “All of Magic Johnson Assists in the 1982 NBA Finals Lakers Vs 76’ers”
NBA – The 1980’s – A Bored Film Special – “Magic Johnson: Showtime”
NBA – 1982 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Special – “Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson Highlights – Celtics vs Lakers at the Forum”
NBA – 1982/83 – GD’s Throwback LEGENDS Duel Highlights Special – “When Julius Erving Faced Magic Johnson In The NBA Finals Game 6”
Prior to Johnson’s 5th season, West, who had become the Lakers general manager, traded Nixon to free Johnson from sharing the ball-handling responsibilities…..who in return, averaged another double-double season, with 17.6 points, 13.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds per game…..as the Lakers reached the Finals for the 3rd year in a row…..when Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics met for the 1st time in the postseason…..with the Lakers winning the 1st game…..and led by two points in Game 2 with 18 seconds to go…..but after a layup by Gerald Henderson, Johnson failed to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded…..and the Lakers lost 124–121 in overtime.
NBA – 1983 – NBA Playoffs – San Antonio Spurs Vs L A Lakers – Featuring Magic Johnson’s 31pts/8rebs/17asts
NBA – 1983 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Special – L A Lakers Morning Shootaround – Featuring Kareem Abdule Jabbar + Magic Johnson + Silk Wilkes and Coach Pat Riley et al
NBA – 1983 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Greatest NBA Legends Duel: Featuring Magic Johnson (23pts/12rebs/20asst) & Dr. J’s Rock the Baby Dunk”
In Game 3, Johnson responded with 21 assists in a 137–104 win, but he made several crucial errors late in the contest during Game 4. In the final minute of the game, Johnson had the ball stolen by Celtics center Robert Parish, and then missed two free throws that could have won the game. The Celtics won Game 4 in overtime, and the teams split the next two games. In the decisive Game 7 in Boston, as the Lakers trailed by three points in the final minute, opposing point guard Dennis Johnson stole the ball from Johnson, a play that effectively ended the series. Friends Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre consoled him that night, talking until the morning in his Boston hotel room amidst fan celebrations on the street. During the Finals, Johnson averaged 18.0 points on .560 shooting, 13.6 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game. Johnson later described the series as “the one championship we should have had but didn’t get”.
NBA – 1984 – NBA Championship Finals Highlights – Game 1 – Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics – Featuring Bird & Magic 1st Finals Meeting – 1st Half
NBA – 1984 – NBA Championship Finals Highlights – Game 1 – Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics – Featuring Bird & Magic 1st Finals Meeting – 2nd Half
NBA – 1984 – NBA Championship Finals – Game 5 Highlights – Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics – Featuring What Was Called “The Heat Game” As Inside Boston Garden Was 98 Degrees
NBA – 1984 – NBA Championship Finals – Game 6 (Entire Game) – Los Angeles Lakers Vs Boston Celtics – Featuring Magic Johnson’s 15 Assists On Way To Series Tying Win
In the 1984–85 regular season, Johnson averaged 18.3 points, 12.6 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game…..and led the Lakers into the 1985 NBA Finals, where they faced the Celtics again. The series started poorly for the Lakers when they allowed an NBA Finals record 148 points to the Celtics in a 34-point loss in Game 1. However, Abdul-Jabbar, who was now 38 years old, scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Game 2, and his 36 points in a Game 5 win were instrumental in establishing a 3–2 lead for Los Angeles. After the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games, Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson, who averaged 18.3 points on .494 shooting, 14.0 assists, and 6.8 rebounds per game in the championship series, said the Finals win was the highlight of their careers.
NBA – 1984/85 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Chicago Bulls Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Rookie Michael Jordan Schooled By Magic Johnson”
NBA – Documentary – 1984/85 – NBA TV Special – “Los Angeles Lakers: Return To Glory”
NBA – 1984/85 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Kansas City Kings Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson’s Triple Double (24 Pts / 12 Rebs / 19 Asst)”
NBA – 1984/85 – NBA Western Conference Playoffs – Game 3 Highlights – Portland Trail Blazers Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 34 Pts / 9 Rebs / 19 Asst”
Johnson again averaged a double-double in the 1985–86 NBA season, with 18.8 points, 12.6 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game…..when the Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals…..but were unable to defeat the Houston Rockets…..who advanced to the Finals in five games.
NBA – 1985/86 – NBA Finals Game 4 Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson Vs Larry Bird Battle Royale”
NBA – 1985/86 – NBA Finals Game 5 Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 26 Pts / 17 Asst”
NBA – 1985/86 – NBA Western Conference Finals – Game 1 Highlights – L A Lakers Vs Houston Rockets – “NBA Greatest Duels Featuring Abdul-Jabbar & Magic vs ‘Twin Towers’ Ralph Sampson & Akeem Olajuwon”
NBA – 1985/86 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights Special – “NBA Greatest Duels: Magic Johnson Vs Isiah Thomas – Featuring Magic Johnson: 25 points, 19 assists & Isiah Thomas: 30 points, 15 assists”
In the next season, Johnson averaged a career-high of 23.9 points, as well as 12.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game…..and earned his 1st regular season MVP award…..as the Lakers met the Celtics for the 3rd time in the NBA Finals…..when in Game 4 Johnson hit a last-second hook shot over Celtics big men Parish and Kevin McHale to win the game 107–106. The game-winning shot…..which Johnson dubbed his “junior, junior, junior sky-hook”, helped Los Angeles defeat Boston in six games…..when Magic Johnson was awarded his 3rd Finals MVP title after averaging 26.2 points on .541 shooting, 13.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.33 steals per game.
NBA – 1986/87 – Maxamillion711 Presents GOAT SZN Special – “Magic Johnson SHOWTIME Highlights From 1986-87 MVP Season”
NBA – 1986/87 – NBA Most Valuable Player Presentation Special – “Magic Johnson: 1986/87 MVP Award Winner”
NBA – Documentary – 1986/87 – Championship Season Movie – “Los Angeles Lakers: Drive For Five”
NBA & Talk Show – 1987 – Trans World Athletics Inc. “One on One” Special – “Magic Johnson: An In Depth Interview With Eddie Alexander”
Before the 1987–88 NBA season, Lakers coach Pat Riley publicly promised that they would defend the NBA title, even though no team had won consecutive titles since the Celtics did so in the 1969 NBA Finals. Johnson had another productive season with averages of 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game despite missing 10 games with a groin injury. In the 1988 playoffs, the Lakers swept the San Antonio Spurs in 3 games, then survived two 4–3 series against the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks to reach the Finals and face Thomas and the Detroit Pistons…..who with players such as Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Vinnie Johnson and Dennis Rodman were known as the “Bad Boys” for their physical style of play. Johnson and Thomas greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek before the opening tip of Game 1…..which they called a display of brotherly love. After the teams split the 1st six games, Lakers forward and Finals MVP James Worthy had his 1st career triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists…..while leading his team to a 108–105 win…..and despite not being named MVP, Johnson had a strong championship series while averaging 21.1 points on .550 shooting, 13.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. It was the 5th and final NBA championship of his career.
NBA – 1987/88 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – New Jersey Nets Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson Scoring 42 Pts.”
NBA – 1987/88 – L A Lakers Vault Highlight Special – “Showtime in Boston: Magic Johnson Buzzer-Beater”
NBA – Documentary – 1987/88 – Championship Season Movie – “Los Angeles Lakers: Back To Back, The Final Piece in the Showtime Era”
NBA – 1987/88 – NBA Finals Game 4 Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Larry Bird and Magic Johnson”
NBA – 1987/88 – NBA Finals Game 3 Special Highlight – L A Lakers Vs Boston Celtics – “Featuring Magic Johnson Last Second Winning Shot”
NBA – 1987/88 – NBA G.O.A.T. Series Special – “Magic Johnson: Prime 1987 Playoffs Highlights”
NBA – 1987/88 – Clayton Crowley’s Making The Case Special – “1987 Los Angeles Lakers: Best NBA Team Ever”
In the 1988–89 NBA season, Johnson’s 22.5 points, 12.8 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game earned him his 2nd MVP award…..as the Lakers reached the 1989 NBA Finals…..in which they again faced the Pistons…..however, after Johnson went down with a hamstring injury in Game 2, the Lakers were no match for the Pistons, who swept them 4–0.
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Golden State Warriors Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 35 Pts 14 Rebs 8 Asst”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Phoenix Suns Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 31 Pts + 15 Asst”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – L A Lakers Vs Chicago Bulls – “Featuring Greatest NBA Duels With Michael Jordan 42pts, 7reb, 8ast, 4stl + Magic Johnson 31pts, 12ast, 4reb, 3stl”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Dallas Mavericks Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With Trible Double 31 Pts / 12 Rebs / 13 Asst”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – L A Lakers VS L A Clippers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 25 Pts / 8 Rebs / 21 Asst”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Finals Game 1 Highlights – Detroit Pistons VS L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 25 Pts / 8 Rebs / 21 Asst”
NBA – 1988/89 – NBA Finals Game 7 Highlights – Detroit Pistons VS L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson’s 5th NBA Championship”
Playing without Abdul-Jabbar for the 1st time, Johnson won his 3rd MVP award after a strong 1989–90 NBA season in which he averaged 22.3 points, 11.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game…..however, the Lakers bowed out to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals…..which was the Lakers’ earliest playoffs elimination in nine years. Mike Dunleavy became the Lakers’ head coach in 1990–91…..when Johnson had grown to be the league’s 3rd-oldest point guard……albeit he had become more powerful and stronger than in his earlier years…..but was also slower and less nimble. Under Dunleavy, the offense used more half-court sets…..and the team had a renewed emphasis on defense. Johnson performed well during the season, with averages of 19.4 points, 12.5 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game…..as the Lakers reached the 1991 NBA Finals…..where they faced the Chicago Bulls, led by shooting guard Michael Jordan, a five-time scoring champion regarded as the finest player of his era. Although the series was portrayed as a matchup between Johnson and Jordan, Bulls forward Scottie Pippen defended effectively against Johnson. Despite two triple-doubles from Johnson during the series, Finals MVP Jordan led his team to a 4–1 win. In the last championship series of his career, Johnson averaged 18.6 points on .431 shooting, 12.4 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per game.
NBA – 1989/90 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: Ultimate Offensive Machine” – In Magic’s 2nd NBA MVP Season
NBA – 1989/90 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – NBA Game of the Week – Utah Jazz Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 33 Pts / 8 Rebs / 13 Assts”
NBA – 1989/90 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – NBA Western Conference Playoffs Rnd 1 Game 1 – Portland Trailblazers Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 30 Pts / 7 Rebs / 16 Assts”
NBA – 1989/90 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – NBA Western Conference Semifinals – Phoenix Suns Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Magic Johnson With 31 Pts / 9 Rebs / 20 Assts”
NBA – 1990/91 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – NBA Western Conference Playoffs – Golden State Warriors Vs L A Lakers – “Featuring Greatest NBA Duels: Warriors Chris Mullin With 41 Pts / 5 Assts Vs Lakers Magic Johnson 44 Pts / 12 Reb / 9 Ast”
NBA – 1990/91 – NBA Finals Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: 1991 NBA Finals Highlights Vs Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls”
NBA – 1990/91 – NBA All Star Game Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: All Star Game MVP”
After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV. In a press conference held on November 7, 1991, Johnson made a public announcement that he would retire immediately. He stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV…..and that he would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease”. Johnson initially said that he did not know how he contracted the disease….. but later acknowledged that it was through having numerous sexual partners during his playing career…..as he admitted to having “harems of women”….. and talked openly about his sexual activities because “he was convinced that heterosexuals needed to know that they, too, were at risk”. At the time, only a small percentage of HIV-positive American men had contracted it from heterosexual sex…..and it was initially rumored that Johnson was gay or bisexual…..albeit he denied both. Johnson later accused Isiah Thomas of spreading the rumors, a claim Thomas denied. Johnson’s HIV announcement became a major news story in the United States…..and in 2004 was named as ESPN’s 7th-most memorable moment of the previous 25 years. Many articles praised Johnson as a hero…..and the then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush said, “For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports.”
NBA & News – 1991 – CNN News Special – “Magic Johnson HIV Announcement” – Part 1
NBA & News – 1991 – CNN News Special – “Magic Johnson HIV Announcement” – Part 2
NBA & Talk Show – 2019 – Fair Game Live With Kristine Leahy’s Interview Special – With L A Lakers Trainer Gary Vitti – On Treating Magic Johnson Following His HIV Diagnosis
NBA & Talk Shows – 2013 – Oprah Winfrey Network Presents An Interview by Oprah With Magic Johnson – About The Day Magic Johnson Found Out He Tested HIV Positive
NBA & Talk Shows – 2021 – CBS Mornings With Gayle King Presents An Interview With Magic Johnson – On How He and Cookie Johnson Survived HIV While Stopping the Stigma and Building An Empire
Despite his retirement, Johnson was voted by fans as a starter for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game at Orlando Arena…..to which his former teammates Byron Scott and A. C. Green said that Johnson should not play…..as well as several other NBA players, including Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, argued that they would be at risk of contamination if Johnson suffered an open wound while on court. Johnson led the West to a 153–113 win and was crowned All-Star MVP after recording 25 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds…..when the game ended after he made a last-minute 3-pointer…..and players from both teams ran onto the court to congratulate Johnson.
NBA – 1992 – NBA All Star Game (Entire NBC Broadcast With Mike Fratello & Dick Enberg) – Featuring Magic Johnson’s Game MVP Performance During His Return to the Court After HIV Announcement
NBA – 1992 – NBA All Star Game Highlight Special – “The Game Magic Johnson Came Back and Won the Game MVP”
NBA – 1992 – NBA All Star Game Highlight Special – “The Game Magic Johnson Came Back and Won the Game MVP & Puts On A Show In The Final 4 Minutes”
NBA 1992 – NBA All Star Game Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: MVP With 25 Pts + 9 Asst”
Johnson was chosen to compete in the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics for the U.S. national team….which was dubbed the “Dream Team” because of the incredible collection of NBA stars on the roster…..which along with Johnson included fellow Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley et al…..for this team was considered unbeatable. After qualifying for the Olympics with a gold medal at the 1992 Tournament of the Americas, the Dream Team dominated in Olympic competition…..while winning the gold medal with an 8–0 record…..after beating their opponents by an average of 43.8 points per game…..when Johnson averaged 8.0 points per game during the Olympics, along with his 5.5 assists per game…..which was 2nd on the team. Johnson played infrequently because of knee problems…..but he received standing ovations from the crowd…..and used the opportunity to inspire HIV-positive people.
NBA & Olympics – Documentary – 1992 – Barcelona Summer Olympics Men’s Basketball Special – “The Dream Team: Featuring 11 NBA Hall of Famers + 1 NCAA Player”
Olympics – 1992 – Barcelona Summer Games Men’s Basketball Special – “The Dream Team”: The Best Team Ever Assembled”
Olympics – 2010 – Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – “1992 Barcelona Olympics USA Men’s Basketball Gold Medal Winner – The Dream Team – With Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird Speaking On Behalf Of The “Dream” Team Being Enshrined”
Before the 1992–93 NBA season, Johnson announced his intention to stage an NBA comeback. After practicing and playing in several pre-season games, he retired again before the start of the regular season, citing controversy over his return sparked by opposition from several active players. In an August 2011 interview, Johnson said that in retrospect he wished that he had never retired after being diagnosed with HIV, saying, “If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have retired.” Johnson said that despite the physical, highly competitive practices and scrimmages leading up to the 1992 Olympics, some of those same teammates still expressed concerns about his return to the NBA. He said that he retired because he “didn’t want to hurt the game.”
NBA – 1979 To 1996 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Thinking Basketball: How Magic Johnson Destroyed Teams Without Volume Scoring”
During his retirement, Johnson has written a book on safe sex, run several businesses, worked for NBC as a commentator, and toured Asia, Australia and New Zealand with a basketball team of former college and NBA players. In 1985, Johnson created “A Midsummer Night’s Magic”, a yearly charity event which included a celebrity basketball game and a black tie dinner. The proceeds went to the United Negro College Fund…..as Johnson held this event for twenty years, ending in 2005. “A Midsummer Night’s Magic” eventually came under the umbrella of the Magic Johnson Foundation….. which he founded in 1991. The 1992 event was the 1st one held after Johnson’s appearance in the 1992 Olympics, raised over $1.3 million for UNCF. Magic Johnson joined Shaquille O’Neal and celebrity coach Spike Lee to lead the blue team to a 147–132 victory over the white team…..which was coached by Arsenio Hall.
NBA – 1990 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “The Midsummer Night’s Magic Charity NBA All-Star Game”
NBA – 1988 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “The Midsummer Night’s Magic Charity NBA All-Star Game”
Johnson returned to the NBA as coach of the Lakers near the end of the 1993–94 NBA season…..while replacing Randy Pfund, and Bill Bertka…..who served as an interim coach for two games. Johnson took the job at the urging of owner Jerry Buss and admitted “I’ve always had the desire (to coach) in the back of my mind.” He insisted that his health was not an issue…. while downplaying questions about returning as a player by saying, “I’m retired. Let’s leave it at that.” Amid speculation from general manager Jerry West that he may only coach until the end of the season, Johnson took over a team that had a 28–38 record…..and won his 1st game as head coach, a 110–101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He was coaching a team that had five of his former teammates on the roster with Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, Tony Smith, Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, and Michael Cooper….. who was brought in as an assistant coach. Johnson, who still had a guaranteed player contract that would pay him $14.6 million during the 1994–95 NBA season signed a separate contract to coach the team that had no compensation. The Lakers played well initially, winning five of their first six games under Johnson, but after losing the next five games, Johnson announced that he was resigning as coach after the season. The Lakers finished the season on a ten-game losing streak, and Johnson’s final record as a head coach was 5–11. Stating that it was never his dream to coach, he chose instead to purchase a 5% share of the team in June 1994.
NBA & Comedy – 2022 – L A Lakers Vault Lou Young Parody of the “1992 Dream Team Scrimmage…..As The Greatest Game Never Seen Between Team Magic Vs Team MJ – Magic Johnson (impersonated by Lou Young) Tells The Greatest Story With The Iconic “HEEEE HEEEE”.
At the age of 36, Johnson attempted another comeback as a player when he re-joined the Lakers during the 1995–96 NBA season. During his retirement, Johnson began intense workouts to help his fight against HIV, raising his bench press from 135 to 300 pounds, and increasing his weight to 255 pounds. He officially returned to the team on January 29, 1996, and played his first game the following day against the Golden State Warriors. Coming off the bench, Johnson had 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists to help the Lakers to a 128–118 victory. On February 14, Johnson recorded the final triple-double of his career…..when he scored 15 points, along with 10 rebounds and 13 assists in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks. Playing power forward, he averaged 14.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game in 32 games, and finished tied for 12th place with Charles Barkley in voting for the MVP Award. The Lakers had a record of 22–10 in the games Johnson played…..and he considered his final comeback “a success.”
NBA – 1995/96 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights Special – Chicago Bulls Vs L A Lakers – On Magic Johnson’s Emotional NBA Return After His Retirement
NBA – 1996 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights Special – Golden State Warriors Vs L A Lakers – Featuring Magic Johnson’s Return to the NBA With 19 Pts & 10 Asst.
NBA – 1995/96 – Andy Hoops Highlights Special – “The Untold Story of Magic Johnson 1995 Return To The Lakers”
While Johnson played well in 1996, there were struggles both on and off the court. Cedric Ceballos, upset over a reduction in his playing time after Johnson’s arrival, left the team for several days. He missed two games and was stripped of his title as team captain. Nick Van Exel received a seven-game suspension for bumping referee Ron Garretson during a game on April 9. Johnson was publicly critical of Van Exel, saying his actions were “inexcusable.” Johnson was himself suspended five days later, when he bumped referee Scott Foster, missing three games. He also missed several games due to a calf injury…..and despite these difficulties, the Lakers finished with a record of 53–29 and 4th seed in the NBA Playoffs…..when albeit they were facing the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets….but the Lakers had home court advantage in the five-game series…..when they played poorly in a Game 1 loss…..which prompted Johnson to express frustration with his role in coach Del Harris’ offense…..so, Johnson led the way to a Game 2 victory with 26 points…..but averaged only 7.5 points per game for the remainder of the series…..which the Rockets won three games to one.
NBA – 1996 – NBA Western Conference Playoffs Round1 Game 2 Highlights – Featuring Magic Johnson With 26 Pts + 5 Asst
After the Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets in the 1st round of the playoffs, Johnson initially expressed a desire to return to the team for the 1996–97 NBA season…..but he also talked about joining another team as a free agent, hoping to see more playing time at point guard instead of power forward. A few days later, Johnson changed his mind and retired permanently, saying, “I am going out on my terms, something I couldn’t say when I aborted a comeback in 1992.”
NBA – 1979 To 1996 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: Top 10 Feats of Magic on the Basketball Court”
Determined to play competitive basketball despite being out of the NBA, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team composed of former NBA and college players. In 1994, Johnson joined with former pros Mark Aguirre, Reggie Theus, John Long, Earl Cureton, Jim Farmer, and Lester Conner, as his team played games in Australia, Israel, South America, Europe, New Zealand, and Japan. They also toured the United States, playing five games against teams from the CBA. In the final game of the CBA series, Johnson had 30 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists, leading the All-Stars to a 126–121 victory over the Oklahoma City Cavalry. By the time he returned to the Lakers in 1996, the Magic Johnson All-Stars had amassed a record of 55–0, and Johnson was earning as much as $365,000 per game. Johnson played with the team frequently over the next several years, with possibly the most memorable game occurring in November 2001. At the age of 42, Johnson played with the All-Stars against his alma mater, Michigan State. Although he played in a celebrity game to honor coach Jud Heathcoate in 1995, this was Johnson’s first meaningful game played in his hometown of Lansing in 22 years. Playing in front of a sold-out arena, Johnson had a triple-double and played the entire game, but his all-star team lost to the Spartans by two points. Johnson’s half-court shot at the buzzer would have won the game, but it fell short. On November 1, 2002, Johnson returned to play a second exhibition game against Michigan State. Playing with the Canberra Cannons of Australia’s National Basketball League instead of his usual group of players, Johnson’s team defeated the Spartans 104–85, as he scored 12 points, with 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
International Basketball – 1995 – Special Exhibition in Turkey – Magic Johnson Traveling Team Vs Ulker Istanbul
In 1999, Johnson joined the Swedish squad M7 Borås (now known as ‘Borås Basket’)…..and was undefeated in five games with the team…..then Johnson also became a co-owner of the club….however, the project failed after one season and the club was forced into reconstruction. He later joined the Danish team The Great Danes.
International Basketball – 1999 – Swedish squad M7 Borås Special – “Magic Johnson Plays In Sweden”
Johnson and Bird were 1st linked as rivals after Johnson’s Michigan State squad defeated Bird’s Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA finals. The rivalry continued in the NBA…..while reaching its climax when Boston and Los Angeles met in three out of four NBA Finals from 1984 to 1987…..with the Lakers winning two out of three Finals…..as Johnson asserted that for him, the 82-game regular season was composed of 80 normal games, and two Lakers–Celtics games. Similarly, Bird admitted that Johnson’s daily box score was the 1st thing he checked in the morning.
NBA – Documentary – 1979 TO 1992 – An HBO Sports Special – “Magic Johnson and Larry Bird: A Courtship of Rivals Basketball”
NBA – Documentary – 1979 TO 1992 – A Non-Stop Highlight Special – “Magic Johnson and Larry Bird: Greatest Rivalry In Sports History”
NBA – Documentary – 2013 – Excerpt from HBO Sports Special Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals – “Magic And Bird: A Rivalry Gives Way To Friendship”
Several journalists hypothesized that the Johnson–Bird rivalry was so appealing because it represented many other contrasts…..such as the clash between the Lakers and Celtics…..between Hollywood flashiness (“Showtime”) and Boston/Indiana blue collar grit (“Celtic Pride”)…..and between blacks and whites…..but of the greatest import, the rivalry was also significant because it drew national attention to the faltering NBA…..when prior to Johnson and Bird’s arrival, the NBA had gone through a decade of declining interest and low TV ratings…..then with Magic Vs Bird, two future Hall of Famers….and that’s when the league won a whole generation of new fans…..while drawing both traditionalist adherents of Bird’s dirt court Indiana game…..along with those appreciative of Johnson’s “public park flair”. According to sports journalist Larry Schwartz of ESPN, Johnson and Bird saved the NBA from bankruptcy.
NCAAM & NBA – Mini Documentary – 1979 To 1992 – Best NBA Duels Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson Vs Larry Bird: The Rivalry That Saved The NBA”
NBA – Interview – 2012 – NBA GOW Halftime Special – “MAGIC and BIRD – Magic Johnson Gets Emotional Recalling Larry Bird’s Concern When He Contracted HIV”
NBA – Interview – 2009 – ESPN NBA Throwback Special – “MAGIC and BIRD – Magic Johnson, Larry Bird Reminisce About Their Rivalry in College and the NBA”
NBA – Interview – 2023 – The Universe Gallery NBA With Bob Costas – Featuring Larry Bird & Magic Johnson – On “Larry Legend’s Opinion of Who The Best Basketball Player of All Time Is”
Despite their on-court rivalry, Johnson and Bird became close friends during the filming of a 1984 Converse shoe advertisement that depicted them as enemies. Johnson appeared at Bird’s retirement ceremony in 1992…..and described Bird as a “friend forever”…..when during Johnson’s Hall of Fame ceremony, Bird formally inducted his old rival.
NBA & Awards Shows – 2002 – Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – “Larry Bird Announces Magic’s Induction – As Earvin “Magic” Johnson Makes His Acceptance Speech”
NBA & Awards Show – 2019 – NBA Awards Show – Featuring Samuel L Jackson Presenting Magic Johnson & Larry Bird NBA Lifetime Achievement Awards
In 2009, Johnson and Bird collaborated with journalist Jackie MacMullan on a non-fiction book titled When the Game Was Ours. The book detailed their on-court rivalry and friendship with one another. The following year, HBO developed a documentary about their rivalry titled Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, which was directed by Ezra Edelman. The interview of the author of When The Game Was Ours seen below is very informative….. with so much about each Legend that I didn’t know prior to the post…..and I was a huge fan of Bird…..and a great admirer of Magic…..but Jackie MacMullan did incredible work in her research for this book…..and this is an outstanding interview with the book author……and well worth watch.
NCAAM & NBA – Interview – 2005 – The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover Special “Books of Our Times” – As Professor of Law Holly Vietzke interviews ESPN.com sports columnist Jackie MacMullen on her book: When The Game Was Ours – Larry Bird Earvin Magic Johnson
In a 905 NBA game career, Magic Johnson tallied 17,707 points…..6,559 rebounds…..and 10,141 assists…..which translates to career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game…..which is the highest assists per game average in NBA history…..while Magic shares the single-game playoff record for assists (24)…..and holds the Finals record for assists in a game (21)…..plus, has the most playoff assists (2,346)…..whereby, he is the only player to average 12 assists in an NBA Finals series…..while achieving it six times. He holds the All-Star Game single-game record for assists (22)….. and the All-Star Game record for career assists (127).
NBA – 1979 To 1991 – Los Angeles Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson’s SHOWTIME Lakers Compilation”
Johnson introduced a fast-paced style of basketball called “Showtime”, described as a mix of “no-look passes off the fastbreak, pin-point alley-oops from halfcourt, spinning feeds and overhand bullets under the basket through triple teams.“ Fellow Lakers guard Michael Cooper said, “There have been times when [Johnson] has thrown passes and I wasn’t sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores, and I run back up the floor convinced that he must’ve thrown it through somebody.” Johnson could dominate a game without scoring, running the offense and distributing the ball with flair. In the 1982 NBA Finals, he was named the Finals MVP averaging just 16.2 points, the lowest average of any Finals MVP award recipient in the three-point shot era. Johnson was exceptional because he played point guard despite being 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), a size reserved normally for frontcourt players. His career 138 triple-double games places him 3rd all-time behind Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. Johnson is the only player in NBA Finals history to have triple-doubles in multiple series-clinching games.
NBA – 1979 To 1991 – L A Lakers Vault Highlight Special – “A Display of Magic’s Signature Passes Throughout His Illustrious Career” – Part 1
NBA – 1979 To 1991 – L A Lakers Vault Highlight Special – “A Display of Magic’s Signature Passes Throughout His Illustrious Career” – Part 2
For his feats, Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996…..while being selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021…..as well as being inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002….plus, ESPN’s SportsCentury ranked Johnson #17 in their “50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century” In 2006, ESPN.com rated Johnson the greatest point guard of all time, stating, “It could be argued that he’s the one player in NBA history who was better than Michael Jordan.” Bleacher Report also listed Johnson 1st in its all-time NBA point guard rankings. In 2022, to commemorate the NBA’s 75th anniversary, The Athletic ranked their top 75 players of all time…..and named Johnson as the 5th greatest player in NBA history…..and the highest ranked point guard. Several of his achievements in individual games have also been named among the top moments in the NBA. At the 2019 NBA Awards, Johnson received the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award (shared with Bird). In 2022, the NBA began awarding MVPs for the conference finals…..with the Western Conference Finals MVP trophy being named in Johnson’s honor…..while the Eastern Conference trophy is named after Bird.
NBA -Mini Documentary – 1979 To 1999 – NBA TV Special – “75 Stories: Magic Johnson”
On February 21, 2017, Johnson replaced Jim Buss as the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers…..when under Johnson, the Lakers sought to acquire multiple star players…..and cleared existing players, including future All-Star D’Angelo Russell, off of their roster in an attempt to free up room under the league’s salary cap…..then the franchise reached an agreement with free agent LeBron James on a four-year contract in 2018….. but efforts to trade for Anthony Davis during the 2018–19 season proved unsuccessful. The Lakers did not reach the playoffs during Johnson’s executive tenure. In an impromptu news conference on April 9, 2019, Johnson resigned from the Lakers, citing his desire to return to his role as an NBA ambassador.
NBA – 1979 To 1996 – L A Lakers Vault Highlight Special – “Magic Johnson: Best Play of Each All Star Game He Played In!”
Johnson 1st fathered a son in 1981…..when Andre Johnson was born to Melissa Mitchell…..and albeit Andre was raised by his mother, he visited Johnson each summer…..and later worked for Magic Johnson Enterprises as a marketing director. In 1991, Johnson married Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly in a small wedding in Lansing which included guests Thomas, Aguirre, and Herb Williams. Johnson and Cookie have one son, Earvin III (“EJ”), who is openly gay and a star on the reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. The couple adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995. Johnson resides in Beverly Hills and has a vacation home in Dana Point, California. Johnson is a Christian and has said his faith is “the most important thing” in his life.
NBA – 2022 – NBA Legends Special – “Inside The Unknown Family Of Magic Johnson!”
In 2010, Johnson and current and former NBA players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Bill Russell, as well as Maya Moore from the WNBA, played a basketball game with President Barack Obama as an exhibition for a group of military troops who had been injured in action…..when the game was played at a gym inside Fort McNair…..and reporters covering the president were not allowed to enter. The basketball game was part of festivities organized to celebrate Obama’s 49th birthday.
NBA – 1989 – CBS Sports NBA Special – “Magic Johnson: Put Magic In Your Game Instructional Basketball Drills For Kids Showtime Lakers”
Johnson had an extremely close relationship with Lakers owner Jerry Buss….. whom he saw as a mentor and a father figure…..while calling Buss his “second father” and “one of [his] best friends”…..as Johnson spent five hours visiting Buss at the hospital just a few months before his death from cancer. Speaking to media just hours after Buss had died, Johnson was emotional, saying, “Without Dr. Jerry Buss, there is no Magic.” Buss acquired the team from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, shortly before he drafted Johnson with the # 1 pick in the 1979 NBA draft…..when Buss took a special interest in Johnson…..while introducing him to important Los Angeles business contacts and showing him how the Lakers organization was run…..which was before eventually selling Johnson a stake in the team in 1994. Johnson credits Buss with giving him the business knowledge that enabled him to become part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
NBA – 2013 – The Funeral of Lakers Owner Dr. Jerry Buss Special – “Magic Johnson: Talking About His Boss, Mentor and 2nd Father”
NBA – Interview – 2015 – L A Lakers Vault Special – “Lakers President and Co-Owner Jeanie Buss Talks About the Relationship with Her Father, Jerry Buss, and Her Upbringing Alongside Magic Johnson and the ‘Showtime’ Lakers”
Buss supported Johnson as he revealed his diagnosis of HIV in 1991…..and he never hesitated to keep Johnson close to the organization…..while bringing him in as part-owner…..and even as a coach….which Magic had never seriously considered doing…..but he agreed to take the head coaching position with the Lakers in 1994 at Buss’ request. In 1992, Buss had given Johnson a contract that paid him $14 million a year, as payback for all the years he was not the league’s highest-paid player. Although Johnson’s retirement prior to the 1992–93 NBA season voided this contract, Buss insisted that he still be paid. It was this arrangement that allowed Johnson to coach the team without receiving any additional salary. After Johnson ended his coaching stint, Buss sold him a 4% stake in the Lakers for $10 million…..and Johnson served as a team executive.
NBA & Talk Shows – 2023 – A Club Shay Shay With Shannon Sharp – Featuring Magic Johnson – On Hanging Out With Dr. Jerry Buss
NBA & News – 2023 – CBS Morning With Charlie Rose & Gayle King Interview Magic Johnson – “On Opening of Broadway Show “Magic Bird” + Explains Who Is The Smartest NBA Player He Ever Played Against”
NBA & Talk Shows – 2021 – The Late Show With Stephen Colbert – Featuring An Interview With Magic Johnson – On the 2021 Upcoming NCAA March Madness Tournament + Shares a Story About When He Played Basketball With President Barack Obama
Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a conglomerate company that has a net worth of $700 million…..while its subsidiaries include Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company…..Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters…..and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a film studio. In addition to these business ventures, Johnson has also created the Magic Card, a pre-paid MasterCard aimed at helping low-income people save money and participate in electronic commerce. In 2006, Johnson created a contract food service with Sodexo USA called Sodexo-Magic. In 2004, Johnson and his partner Ken Lombard sold Magic Johnson Theaters to Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The first Magic Johnson Theater located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, closed in 2010 and re-opened in 2011 as Rave Cinema 15. In 2012, Johnson launched a cable TV network called Aspire…..which featured programming targeted at black audiences, similar to networks such as Black Entertainment Television (BET) and TV One.
NBA & Entrepreneurs – 2021 – A Grant Cardone Concert Special – “Magic Johnson: How I Built 125 Starbucks in 40 Urban Cities”
NBA & Entrepreneurs – 2023 – Business Lunch Live with Roland Frasier Special – “Magic Johnson: On His Mentors, Success, and Investing”
Johnson began thinking of life after basketball while still playing with the Lakers. He wondered why so many athletes had failed at business, and sought advice. During his seventh season in the NBA, he had a meeting with Michael Ovitz, CEO of Creative Artists Agency. Ovitz encouraged him to start reading business magazines and to use every connection available to him…..when Johnson learned everything he could about business, often meeting with corporate executives during road trips. Johnson’s 1st foray into business, a high-end sporting goods store named Magic 32, failed after only one year, costing him $200,000…..but the experience taught him to listen to his customers…..and find out what products they wanted. Johnson has become a leading voice on how to invest in urban communities…..while creating redevelopment opportunities in underserved areas, most notably through his movie theaters and his partnership with Starbucks. He went to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with the idea that he could successfully open the coffee shops in urban areas. After showing Schultz the tremendous buying power of minorities, Johnson was able to purchase 125 Starbucks stores, which reported higher than average per capita sales. The partnership, called Urban Coffee Opportunities, placed Starbucks in locations such as Detroit, Washington, D.C., Harlem, and the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles…..then Johnson sold his remaining interest in the stores back to the company in 2010…..which ended a successful twelve-year partnership. He has also made investments in urban real estate through the Canyon-Johnson and Yucaipa-Johnson funds. Another major project is with insurance services company Aon Corp. In 2005–2007, Johnson was part of a syndicate that bought the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, then the tallest building in Brooklyn, for $71 million and converted the 512-foot high landmark structure from an office building into luxury condominiums.
NBA & News – 2021 – ABC News Nightline With Robin Roberts Special – Interview of Earvin “Magic” Johnson – As He Looks Back at the Highlights and Lows of His Legendary Career
In 1990, Johnson and Earl Graves Sr. obtained a large interest in the Washington, D.C. PepsiCo bottling operation…..which made it the company’s largest minority-owned facility in the U.S……then Johnson became a minority owner of the Lakers in 1994, having reportedly paid more than $10 million for part ownership. He also held the title of team vice president. Johnson sold his ownership stake in the Lakers in October 2010 to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles surgeon and professor at UCLA…..but continued as an unpaid vice president for the team. In February 2017, Johnson returned to the Lakers as an advisor to Jeanie Buss.
NBA – 2021 – L A Lakers Vault Special – “Master Storyteller Bill Bellamy Hilariously Explains Just How Much Money Magic Johnson Really Has!”
In 2015, Johnson completed his planned acquisition for a “majority, controlling interest” in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company…..which manages $14.5 billion in annuities, life insurance and other financial products. He is an investor for aXiomatic eSports, the ownership company of Team Liquid.
NBA & Talk Shows – 2017 – Conan on TBS Special – “Conan O’Brien and NBA Legend Magic Johnson Work Up an Appetite Playing a Very Competitive Game of Horse”
In January 2012, Johnson joined with Guggenheim Partners and Stan Kasten in a bid for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. In March 2012, Johnson’s ownership group was announced as the winner of the proceedings to buy the Dodgers…..when the Johnson-led group, which also includes movie executive Peter Guber, paid $2 billion for the Dodgers….as the largest amount paid for a professional sports team to that point in history…..and while Johnson is considered the leader of the ownership group, the controlling owner is Mark Walter, chief executive officer for Guggenheim Partners…..while Peter Guber, who is the co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, owns a small stake in the Dodgers along with Johnson. The Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, giving Johnson a Major League Baseball title to his credit. Johnson and Guber were also partners in the Dayton Dragons, a Class-A minor league baseball team in Dayton, Ohio, that sold out more than 1,000 consecutive games, a record for professional sports. Johnson and Guber sold their stake in the Dragons in 2014.
NBA – 1979 To 1996 – L A Lakers Vault Max Sport Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: Top 32 Assists of His Career”
Together with Guggenheim, Johnson was also involved in the February 2014 purchase of the Los Angeles Sparks team in the WNBA. As such, in 2014, Johnson was named one of ESPNW’s Impact 25. He won the WNBA championship as the owner in 2016. Johnson announced his co-ownership of a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise based in Los Angeles on October 30, 2014. The temporary name was Los Angeles Football Club, which later became permanent in 2015. In 2018, Los Angeles FC debuted in MLS as an expansion team, and in 2022 won the MLS Cup.
NBA – 1979 To 1996 – NBA TV Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: Top 10 Passes of His Career”
In 2023, Johnson was part of an investment group led by businessmen Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales that submitted a bid to purchase the NFL’s Washington Commanders. In April 2023, the group had reached an agreement with Commanders owner Daniel Snyder to purchase the team for $6.05 billion, the largest sales transaction for a sports franchise in history. The deal is expected to be ratified at a league meeting in late May.
NBA – 1979 To 1991 – Clutch 23 Productions Special – “Magic Johnson: Golden Wizard Showtime Baby”
After announcing his infection in November 1991, Johnson created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV, although he later diversified the foundation to include other charitable goals. In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, a committee appointed by members of Congress and the Bush Administration. Johnson left after eight months, saying that the White House had “utterly ignored” the work of the panel, and had opposed the commission’s recommendations…..which included universal healthcare and the expansion of Medicaid to cover all low-income people with AIDS. He was also the main speaker for the United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day Conference in 1999, and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
NBA – 1991 To 2023 – CBS Mornings Special – Magic and Cookie Johnson – On Surviving HIV, Stopping the Stigma and Building an Empire
HIV had been associated with intravenous drug users and homosexuals, but Johnson’s campaigns sought to show that the risk of infection was not limited to those groups…..when Johnson stated that his aim was to “help educate all people about what [HIV] is about”…..and to teach others not to “discriminate against people who have HIV and AIDS”. To prevent his HIV infection from progressing to AIDS, Johnson takes a daily combination of drugs, also called a drug cocktail. He has advertised GlaxoSmithKline’s drugs, and partnered with Abbott Laboratories to publicize the fight against AIDS in African American communities.
NBA & Talk Shows – OWN Oprah’s Next Chapter Interview Special – “Magic and Cookie Johnson: Show Their Support for Their Gay Son E. J.”
10-time NBA champion (five as a player, five as owner/executive)
Three-time NBA MVP
Three-time Finals MVP
Nine-time All-NBA First Team
12-time NBA All-Star
Two-time All-Star Game MVP
1992 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996
Selected on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021
No. 32 retired by the Lakers
Statue in front of Crypto.com Arena
Trophy named in Johnson’s honor (Earvin “Magic” Johnson Trophy) awarded to Western Conference Finals MVP (established in 2022)
1992 Olympic gold medal (U.S. national team)
1979 NCAA champion (Michigan State)
No. 33 retired by Michigan State
Statue at Michigan State
1977 Michigan high school state champion (Lansing Everett High School)
Halls of Fame
Two-time Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee:
2002 – individual
2010 – member of “The Dream Team”
College Basketball Hall of Fame (class of 2006)
FIBA Hall of Fame (class of 2017 as a member of “The Dream Team”)
U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (class of 2009 as a member of “The Dream Team”)
Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2016 WNBA champion (as part owner of the Sparks)
2020 World Series champion (as part owner of the Dodgers)
2022 MLS Cup champion (as part owner of Los Angeles FC)
NAACP Image Awards
1992 Jackie Robinson Sports Award
1993 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album
NBA & Talk Shows – 2023 – SHOWTIME Basketball ALL THE SMOKE with Steven Jackson & Matt Barnes Special – “Magic Johnson: Shares Never Before Told Stories About His Career of 5 Titles with the Lakers, His Battles with Larry Bird, His Time with the Dream Team, and Facing Off with MJ and Isiah Thomas. et al
In coming to a deserving conclusion to this tribute to “The Magic Man” Magic Johnson, I find myself having a difficult finding the right ways to express just what a blessing God gave to the world in the man the call Magic…..cus he truly performed magic in every thing he did to this point in May 2023 of his life…..and there is no question in my mind that he will do a lot more magic in the balance of his life. I honestly do not know of a better example of God’s work than Magic Johnson…..a person that had both good traits and bad traits…..who therefore made good choices as well as bad ones throughout their lives…..that understands their mistakes are forgiven, which they stand up and admit to once they make those mistakes…..and then does positive things to help others not make the same mistakes…..and this video history of Magic Johnson found in this post herewith, proves that he is a truly an outstanding example in life…..not just basketball. Earvin Johnson was fortunate to find where to apply his God given talent to play basketball at a young age…..which was evidenced by his winning a High School State title…..then an NCAA National Title…..plus an NBA Title in the span of 4 years…..oh, while also winning the NBA Season MVP during that time frame. Amazing. Johnson wasn’t just an athlete…..he was an artist…..whose consistently incredible passes look like NBA Live glitches…..while his basketball IQ and court sense were literally off the charts. On offense you better keep your hands up…..cuz you might think he can’t see you …..but he sees you…..while knowing exactly where you are…..and where you’re going next. Seriously, Magic was like a human surveillance system……plus, his offense is very underrated. People always ask how come no one has ever learned Kareem’s skyhook?…..cuz it just boggles my mind that people don’t realize the 2nd best hook shot in the history of the game was Magic’s. Also in the videos in the post herewith…..just take note of how many long distant last second shots…..you can see the amount of shots Magic hit from either near half court or the opposite end is staggering…..then go back to even Kobe, and further to MJ…..and they either didn’t try very many or they hit very few. The NCAAM and NBA careers of Magic Johnson from 1977 to 1991 coincided with the years that my sports bar was in operation…..which speaks to how much video content we actually have of Magic and Bird…..for I have watched most of these highlights live when they were originally aired on TV…..and to see them again has been extremely nostalgic. For those that were not around when Magic was in his prime, it is very hard to be “the man” in LA with all of the different sports and celebrities in the City…..but Magic owned the City when he played. Think about it, this guy’s nickname is “Magic” which is a very lofty nickname in the 1st place…..and as you can see in the videos in this post, he earned every letter of his name. When he announced that he had HIV, it was crippling for LA as though someone sucked the life out of the City. He was so adored that grown men and women were crying when they heard the news. I don’t think there has been another celebrity in LA that got the attention that Magic had in the City…..as the truth be known, on and off the court, he could do no wrong. I feel very lucky to have not only watch many of his games……but to be around to witness his rivalry with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics……especially considering the Celtics were my team and Larry Legend was my guy…..so, Magic Johnson broke my heart on many occasions during his career. The beauty of Magic’s game was that he controlled the pace of the game and it was played at his will…..when he would start every game fast….then lure you to sleep and when you least expected it, he’d tear your heart out. To this day I’ve never seen a point guard be able to single handedly dominate a game all the meanwhile not even having to score a single point in doing so like Magic…..for these were good times…..and Earvin “Magic” Johnson was the most fun-to-watch player in the history of basketball…..and probably in the history of any sport…..cuz no tickets were so expensive with so much value than the ones sold during the SHOWTIME at the Forum. Man this guy could do it all. He’s way down court, throws the ball up and it goes in…..as the fact is that a person can do it once or a few times here and there and get lucky…..but Magic did it consistently…..as if he practiced this shot…..and what’s insane is that he got over 11 assists while averaging 22- 24 ppg as a # 1 option…..and was a pretty damn good rebounder for a guy that did everything he did and played far from the hoop as a point guard. Also, he could guard 5 positions…..not to mention he led the league in steals twice…..as well as he was Finals MVP as a rookie. Not only all of this, but as I stated on top, he made Hail Mary three’s on a regular basis. The beauty of Magic’s game was that he controlled the pace of the game and it was played at his will. He would start every game fast, then lure you to sleep and then when you least expected it, tear your heart out. To this day I’ve never seen a point guard be able to single handedly dominate a game and all the while not even have to score a single point in doing so like Magic. Good times…..as Bird was a better shooter, MJ was better all-around, but nobody ever put on a show like Magic. Showtime changed how basketball is played and Magic was the maestro. Magic Johnson was not only the greatest point guard ever, hands down…..but he was also the greatest leader of any team sports. There is no team that he was ever on from high school to the Dream Team where it was not obvious that he was the leader. If you ask any Laker teammate that ever played with him…..and they all sing his praises and would follow him gladly. People think that he was flashy, but his best attribute was that he was consistent. He made himself into a 90 percent close range shooter and a good outside shooter…..while he was consistent in everything he did…..plus, he was as consistent in making the routine plays as he was making the spectacular plays. He knew his own team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the opponents…..and he knew exactly how to get the best out of each of his teammates. Since basketball is a team game, I think Magic is the greatest ever to ever play the game…..while making his teammates better…..who could score from anywhere on the court, penetrate almost at will, left hook, right hook, free throws, can rebound, awesome handles, and I didn’t even mention the demonic court vision and passing skills. Not a single player has ever had the same complete skill set. Now imagine if he had better athleticism! Until posting this video tribute to Earvin “Magic” Johnson….and for as long as I can remember…..I have always called Bill Russell my G.O.A.T. for the simple reason of 11 NBA Championship rings…..however, after viewing each and every video in this post herewith…..I have changed my mind to Magic Johnson…..cuz there is not another…..not Michael Jordan….. not Larry Bird…..not Bill Russell…..not Kobe Bryant…..not LeBron James…..not nobody that could ever do what Magic did.
NBA – 1979 To 1999 – L A Lakers Vault Highlights Special – “Magic Johnson: The Magic Man”