Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Magic Johnson played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 years. He was nicknamed “Magic” while playing for Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan. A sports writer for a local paper gave him that name after Earvin scored a triple double the night before.

Most impressive to me was his 1978-1979 season with Michigan State. The Spartans went on to win the championship game against Indiana State in which known rival Larry Bird played for, Magic earned Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. Later that same year Magic was drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers. His first season as a pro the Lakers went on to win the Championship. Even more impressive was Magic earning MVP of the NBA Finals in his rookie year!

NBA.com bio of Magic Johnson explains it best. “Johnson introduced a fast-paced style of basketball called “Showtime,” described as “a mix of no-look passes off the fast-break, pinpoint alley-oops from half-court, 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.”

His niche was in assisting his teammates in scoring, and the numbers prove that, he averaged 11.2 assist per game lifetime. This is the highest assists per game average in NBA history.

Prior to the 1991-92 season Magic learned he tested positive for HIV. In a press conference held on November 7, 1991 Johnson announced that he would retire from the game immediately and would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease.” He has proven his dedication to make a difference: In 1991, he created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV; In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, a committee appointed by members of Congress and the Bush Administration; In 2003, Johnson met with House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi to discuss federal assistance for those with AIDS. Through his trials with this disease he became a motivational speaker and has educated the public by dispelling myth’s about the disease and advocating safe sex.

Magic always had a motivation to be a successful businessman and would often seek the advice of those who were successful themselves. He pursued his passion for business and in 2009 Ebony Magazine named him one of America’s most influential black businessmen. In 1994, Johnson became part owner of the Lakers, he also held the title of team vice president. He sold his ownership of the Lakers in 2010. In February of 2017, he returned to the Lakers as an advisor to Jim Buss and not long after that was named, President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Did You Know

  • In 2012 Johnson led a group of investors in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers; they purchased the team for $2 billion dollars.
  • In February 2014 led a group of investors in the purchase of the WNBA team, Los Angeles Sparks. They won the championship in 2016.
  • For 7 years he was an NBA commentator for Turner Network TV and later became a studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown in 2008.
  • He’s had his: own talk show, record label, food service, movie theater, and credit card aimed at helping low-income people.

Pretty impressive business ventures but an even more impressive basketball career, Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996. ESPN’s Sports Century ranked Johnson #17 in their, “50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.” He has 1 autobiography, “Magic Johnson: My Life,” Random House, (1992). Also, 12 biographies – most recent, “Earvin Magic Johnson: Champion & Crusader,” by Ted Gottfried, (2001). From showman, to businessman all done with a heart of a champion. I wonder how much that great smile had to do with it?


1980-81 Topps, Card #16 (shop eBay)

johnson bird frt 2

johnson bird back

The sole rookie card of Magic Johnson can be found in the 1980-81 Topps set. This is a very unique set due to the three player panels that make up the complete set. Card #16 is an amazing card because it depicts not only the rookie card of Magic Johnson but also the rookie card of Larry Bird – the man in the middle, Dr. J is the cherry on top that has all the makings of an iconic card. One thing to note, the hobby doesn’t consider this card complete unless all three panels are intact, so if you come across one don’t separate them!

As of the date of this post graded mid-grade copies (4-6’s) sell between $180-$225; higher end grades (7-9’s) sell for $320-$3100 and on May 15, 2017 a gem mint 10 sold for $88,988.00!

Wikipedia contributors, “Magic Johnson,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Magic_Johnson&oldid=779537055 (accessed April 1, 2017).
“Magic Johnson 97 Diamond.” Digital Image. 2khead. Accessed March 30, 2017. http://www.2khead.com/16/players/4502-magic-johnson
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