August 14: The Great Earvin “Magic” Johnson Was Born On This Day In 1959

0 Posted by - August 14, 2022 - Birthdays, LATEST POSTS, On This Date

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Walter Looss, Jr. for Sports Illustrated

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. (pictured), a true American sports legend, was born in Lansing, Michigan, on August 14, 1959.

Because of Johnson’s  scoring-oriented, ball-handling wizardry, which he “magically” activated on the court, experts often rank him as the best point guard ever in professional basketball history. Johnson participated in the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons (NBA). After winning titles in high school and college, the Los Angeles Lakers picked Johnson first overall in the 1979 NBA draft. He spent his whole professional career during the “Showtime” period guiding the squad to five NBA titles. In 1991, Johnson unexpectedly resigned after saying he had acquired HIV. However, he returned to participate in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, when he won MVP honors. After complaints from his teammates, he again retired for four years. In 1996, at the age of 36, Johnson returned against all odds. He played 32 games with the Lakers before his third and last retirement.

Three NBA MVP Awards, three NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, 12 All-Star games, and nine All-NBA First Team choices are among Johnson’s career accomplishments. Four times during the regular season, he topped the league in assists. Johnson is the NBA’s all-time leader in regular season and postseason average assists per game (11.19 assists per game) (12.35 assists per game). Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team (also known as “The Dream Team”) that won the gold medal. After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson founded the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a traveling squad that played exhibition games throughout the globe.

Johnson was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021 and was inducted twice into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: in 2002 for his individual career and again in 2010 as a part of the “Dream Team.” His relationship and rivalry with Boston Celtics great Larry Bird, against whom he competed in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are lauded. Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sexual practices since his retirement. He is a prosperous businessman, philanthropist, sports broadcaster, and motivational speaker. In 1991, his public disclosure that he was HIV-positive helped eliminate the widespread misconception that HIV was a “homosexual’s sickness.”

People erroneously assumed that heterosexuals had no need to be concerned about HIV and AIDS. The courage of Johnson in making this revelation was warmly praised. In 2009, Ebony magazine named Johnson one of the most prominent black businesspeople in the United States. Johnson has several business interests and was the Lakers’ president of basketball operations from 2017 to 2019. Johnson is also a member of the investment group that acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014. During Johnson’s tenure as owner of both clubs, the Sparks won the WNBA championship in 2016 and the Dodgers won the World Series in 2020.

Johnson has won a total of ten NBA titles, five as a player and five as a minority owner of the legendary Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

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