Magic Johnson Biography
It is tough to measure the impact Magic Johnson had on the game of basketball even in the most comprehensive Magic Johnson biography. Johnson, along with Larry Bird, helped revitalize the NBA during a dark period filled with drug scandals in the late 70s and early 80s. In his prime with the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson helped forge an NBA dynasty in Southern California with his dazzling play as one of the league's greatest point guards. He also brought public awareness to the fight against HIV and AIDS after publicly announcing in 1991 that he had contracted the HIV virus.
A rising star: Johnson established a reputation for winning championships at an early age. In 1977, he helped Everett High win a state basketball championship in Michigan. After signing with Michigan State, Johnson helped the Spartans claim the 1979 NCAA Championship. It was there where he played against Larry Bird for the first time when Michigan State defeated Bird and Indiana State in the NCAA Championship Game. Johnson earned MVP honors after scoring 24 points to lead the Spartans. He was selected with the number one overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Showtime: Johnson instantly revitalized the Lakers franchise. With him running the point and feeding the ball to eventual fellow Hall-of-Famers such as James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson helped Los Angeles win five NBA titles in the 1980s. He was named an All-Star twelve times. For his career, Johnson boasted some impressive numbers. He averaged 19.7 points per game in 874 games, pulled down 6,376 rebounds, and had 1,698 steals. During the 1990–91 season – his final full season of pro basketball – Johnson passed Oscar Robertson for the most assists in NBA History. He finished the season with a total of 9,921 assists and would hold the league's career assist mark until John Stockton eclipsed it a few seasons later.
HIV diagnosis: Johnson's abruptly retired from the NBA in November, 1991 when he discovered he had the HIV virus. Fans voted the retired Johnson onto the 1992 NBA all-star team and he played in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, scoring 25 points and earning all-star MVP honors. Johnson was selected later that year to participate on the "Dream Team" that represented the United States in basketball at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He helped the United States recapture the gold medal. Johnson made two more comeback attempts in 1992 and 1996. He quit after five preseason games in 1992 amid criticism from other players who feared contracting the HIV virus from Johnson. The Laker legend finally returned to the court one last four years later and played in 32 games before retiring again for good at the end of the 1995-96 season.
After Basketball: Johnson has kept busy since retiring from the NBA as an advocate for HIV and AIDS related causes and created the Magic Johnson Foundation to raise awareness for these diseases and promote other charitable causes. Johnson has also served as a studio analyst on NBA game telecasts for TNT and ESPN and hosted a short lived talk show in the late 90s.