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Magic Johnson, Usa
Just how great a basketball player was Johnson? So great, perhaps, that future generations of hoop fans may wish they had entered the world years earlier -- just so they could have seen Magic play in person instead of watching him only on highlight reels. He was what Bob Cousy was to the 1950s, what Oscar Robertson was to the 1960s, what Julius Erving was to the 1970s.
Still, Earvin Johnson was even more than a revolutionary player, who, at 6-9, was the tallest point guard in league history. His sublime talent elicited wonder and admiration from even the most casual basketball fan.
Whether it was a behind-the-back pass to a streaking James Worthy, a half-court swish at the buzzer or a smile that illuminated an arena, everyone who saw Johnson play took with them an indelible memory of what they had witnessed. From the moment he stepped onto the court, people pondered: How could a man so big do so many things with the ball and with his body? It was Magic.
Johnson accomplished virtually everything a player could dream of during his 13-year NBA career, all of which was spent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a member of five championship teams. He won the Most Valuable Player Award and the Finals MVP Award three times each. He was a 12-time All-Star and a nine-time member of the All-NBA First Team. He surpassed Robertson's career assists record, a mark he later relinquished to John Stockton. He won a gold medal with the original Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
His all-around play inspired the addition of the term "triple-double" to basketball's lexicon, although history demands that Robertson be recognized as the first man to regularly post double figures in three statistical categories in the same game. Unfortunately for the Big O, nobody had thought of the term triple-double back in the 1960s.
Johnson did all of this while maintaining a childlike enthusiasm born of a pure love of sport and competition. Beyond all the money, success and fame, Johnson was just happy to be playing basketball.
If there was one aspect of Johnson's game that awed people the most, it was his brilliant passing skills. He dazzled fans and dumbfounded opponents with no-look passes off the fastbreak, pinpoint alley-oops from halfcourt, spinning feeds and overhand bullets under the basket through triple teams. When defenders expected him to pass, he shot. When they expected him to shoot, he passed."
Name: Earvin Johnson, Jr..
Born: August 14, 1959
Status: Retired as player (11/07/91); Activated as player (01/29/96); Inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame 09/27/2002; Retired as player (05/14/96), Retired as Coach
Origin: Lansing, Michigan, USA
Schools: Everett (Lansing), Michigan State '79
Drafted: 1979, First Round, First pick overall by the Los Angeles Lakers
Teams (jersey): Michigan State University, Los Angeles Lakers (32), USA National Team (1992's Dream Team)
IBN Notes: The fondest memory I have of Earvin "Magic" Johnson was back in 1992, when he came back to the NBA, after he had retired from the game because of his HIV status. Magic returned to play in the NBA All-Star Game, kind of like a farewell game. Pardon the pun, but everything he did that night was Magical. The one-on-one with Michael Jordan towards the end of the game and then one-on-one with his good friend Isiah Thomas, a great no-look pass to Dan Majerle, and a fadeaway three-pointer over Zeke as the clock was expiring... Magic didn't get the MVP of the game because of any sort of sentimentality, but he received it because he deserved the award. The only thing missing from the game was an appearance by his career-nemesis Larry Bird.
IBN Facts: Magic was inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame on September 27th, 2002 by his on-court rival Larry Bird (it is traditional that a Hall member present membership to new Enshrinees).
Magic Johnson has appeared on The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Arli$$, The Parkers, The Late Show with David Letterman (6 times) and the Tonight Show (6 times) as well as hosting his own (albeit short-lived) talk show, called The Magic Hour
NBA.com Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2002); NBA champion (1980, '82, '85, '87, '88); NBA Finals MVP (1980, '82, '87); NBA MVP (1987, '89, '90); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1983-91); All-NBA Second Team (1982); 12-time All-Star; All-Star MVP (1990, '92); Olympic gold medalist (1992); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
|Magic Johnson Links From our forum: Articles and other resources: NBA Bio: Magic Johnson (NBA.com) Then and Now: Magic Johnson Interview (CNN.com, 2005) Magic Johnson Foundation|