Magic Johnson, by the name of Earvin Johnson, Jr. is an American basketball player who led the National Basketball Association (NBA) Los Angeles Lakers to five championships.
The son of an autoworker, Johnson earned his nickname “Magic” in high school for his creative and entertaining ball handling. He was an intense competitor who led his high school team to a state championship in 1977 and led Michigan State University to the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in 1979—handing Larry Bird and Indiana State its only defeat of that season. Johnson left Michigan State after his sophomore season and was selected by the Lakers with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft.
Johnson achieved his greatest success in the professional ranks, where he guided the Lakers to NBA championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. His first championship came in his rookie season, and in the sixth and title-clinching game of the 1979–80 NBA finals Johnson remarkably played all five positions to secure the Lakers’ championship, helping him become the first rookie to win the NBA finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. He was also named the league MVP in 1987, 1989, and 1990. He played point guard and brought new versatility to that position. At 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 meters), he was a dangerous scorer from anywhere on the court and a capable rebounder, averaging 19.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game over his 13-year career. However, he was best known for innovative no-look and bounce passes and a knack for making big plays in the clutch. The battles for league supremacy between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Boston Celtics spurred a new era of fan interest and NBA prosperity.
His achievements :
In his rookie season during the 1980s, he won "NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award."
In 1992 at the All-Star Game, Magic won the "All-Star MVP Award" in the All-Star Game.
In the 1992 Olympic Games, he gave a significant participation to the United States men’s Olympic Basketball team that won the gold medal.
In 2007, he was regarded as the "Best NBA Point Guard" of all time by the ESPN.
Johnson was honored as one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the NBA in 1996.
He was twice inducted into the "Basketball Hall of Fame" in 2002 and 2010 for his individual and dream team performance.
Total games played: 909 (243rd all time)
Unfortunately, Magic Johnson’s NBA playing career was cut short in 1991, save a brief comeback a few seasons later. Magic’s longtime teammate Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar, for example, ended his career having played 1,560 regular season games. That’s good for second all time and eight full years of service more than Magic. All the same, Johnson’s incredible dominance throughout the 1980s gives him an unimpeachable resume.
Total points scored: 17,070 (83rd all time)
Magic averaged 19.5 points per game during the regular season as a pro in the NBA. Remarkably, his career playoff points per game also sits at 19.5. High-volume scoring isn’t what Magic was about.
The former Spartan was efficient with the ball, however. He shot 54.1% from the field and was an incredibly reliable free throw shooter. Part of why he didn’t score more was he didn’t need to. Kareem, James Worthy and other members of the Showtime Lakers finished what Magic started on the offense.
Total rebounds: 6,559 (146th all time)
After some jockeying with Norm Nixon, Johnson eventually became the Lakers primary point guard. His job was to be the quarterback of the offense, and importantly for this era of LA basketball, lead the fast break.
For that reason, rebounding wasn’t an integral part of Magic’s on the court responsibilities. That didn’t stop Magic, though. He logged 7.2 boards per game for his entire career. A product of his stellar instincts, Magic could use his size and speed to swoop in and snag just about any errant rebound.
Total assists: 10,141 (6th all time)
Even though Magic’s career was shorter than some other hall of Famers and superstars, he’s still among the most accomplished players passing the ball. In fact, Johnson authored four of the 15 top seasons by total assists in NBA history. Impossibly, John Stockton owns eight of these.
Magic holds an edge over Stockton, however. Johnson’s 11.2 career assists per game average is the highest mark in NBA history. It’s not surprising — the Lakers won behind a new standard for sharing the ball and upping the pace.
It’s rare a nickname and playing style match so damn well. But the way Earvin Johnson passed the ball was truly Magic.
Total triple doubles: 138 (3rd all time)
Magic Johnson really is a player without rival. He saw the game with the vision of John Stockton or Chris Paul. He could pick apart a defense like LeBron James or Larry Bird. He played with speed and athleticism like Russell Westbrook or Julius Irving. It’s no surprise he consistently filled the stat sheet.
Russell Westbrook changed the perceived value of triple doubles. After all, a dominant player could probably manufacture a triple double on any given night if he really wanted to. Still, most of the time these come about organically behind unbelievable effort. That Magic is third here despite his short playing career speaks volumes.
Total steals: 1,724 (22nd all time)
Magic didn’t just get it done on offense. To watch an old Lakers game from the Showtime Era is to watch a team truly excel wire-to-wire and on both sides of the ball. Johnson was a key part of this, too, of course.
On either end of the court, Johnson played with finesse and incredibly sharp anticipatory skills. He could sense a pass coming before an opponent did, and in the blink of an eye be on his way to a fast-break dunk. As transcendent as he was scoring, Magic was just as magnificent on defense.