When people talk about the greatest basketball players of all time, the names that usually come to mind are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and others. But one player who often gets forgotten amongst the icons is none other than Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Magic Johnson was a point guard who played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1979 to 1991, and then again in 1996. In his 13-year career, he won five NBA championships, three MVP awards, and made 12 All-Star appearances. But it wasn’t just his impressive accolades that made him so great – it was the way he played the game.
Magic was known for his incredible passing ability and court vision. He would make passes that seemed impossible, and somehow always found a way to get the ball to his teammates in the best possible position to score. He also had a knack for making his teammates better – he was able to elevate their games and get the best out of them.
But Magic wasn’t just a passing maestro – he could score too. He averaged 19.5 points per game for his career and had a deadly mid-range game. And when it came to crunch time, he was always there to make the big plays. Just ask the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals, when Magic sunk a game-winning skyhook with two seconds left on the clock.
Off the court, Magic was just as important. He brought a new level of showmanship and entertainment to the game, and he was a role model for many young people around the world. In 1991, Magic announced that he had contracted HIV and would be retiring from basketball. At the time, there was a lot of fear and misunderstanding about the disease, and Magic made it his mission to spread awareness and educate people about HIV and AIDS. He went on to become an advocate for those living with the disease and helped bring attention to the issue on a global scale.
Despite all of his successes on and off the court, Magic often gets overlooked when it comes to the conversation of all-time greats. He may not have had the flashy scoring numbers of Jordan or the longevity of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but his impact on the game was just as significant. He changed the way basketball was played and influenced generations of players that followed him.
In the end, maybe that’s the true mark of greatness – not just the statistics or the championships, but the impact you have on the game and the world around you. And there’s no doubt that Magic left an indelible mark on both. So the next time the conversation turns to the greatest basketball players of all time, don’t forget to include the one and only Magic Johnson.