Magic Johnson: biography
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is an American professional basketball player. During his career, he has been performing for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) (1979-91, 1996) on the point guard position. Besides, Johnson dedicates himself to charitable work: he has worked as an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, has been an entrepreneur, broadcaster and motivational speaker. This person is of those people who can not stand still. Does his life interest you? It is high time to get to know more about Magic Johnson!
Childhood and youth
Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. was born on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan to the family of Earvin Sr., a worker for General Motors, and school janitor Christine. Johnson had 6 siblings and 3 half-siblings (his father's children from the former marriage). His parents were hard workers: often his mother did home chores at nights, cooked and cleaned for the big family, father usually disappeared at work. Johnson helped his father on the garbage route. Because of it, the little boy got the name “Garbage man.”
The boy passed his childhood in the home city where he found a passion of his life: basketball. Johnson could spend the whole day playing basketball outside without having a rest. His idols were Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes.
Johnson got the first popularity of a basketball player being a high school student. So, playing for the Everett High School team in a local championship, he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. Later, Fred Stabley Jr., a sports writer for the Lansing State Journal, in his article called Johnson “Magic.” Since then the moniker is associated with the player. However, his mother, a very religious woman, didn't like this name, thinking it to be inappropriate and rude. In the future admissions, Earvin would say: “Magic is my name on the basketball court. Earvin is my daily name.”
In the last grade, Johnson recorded 28,8 points and 16,8 rebounds per game. His team won 27 plays of 28. Eventually, in the final match, Earvin led the team to the victory.
When it came to choosing a University to study at, the parents suggested him to enter such prestigious establishments as Indiana University Bloomington and the University of California, Los Angeles. The boy decided to study near the home. He entered Michigan State in East Lansing. His team's coacher Jud Heathcote proposed him to play the point guard position which influenced his decision.
Johnson turned out to be a serious and responsible student: in pursuit of a dream to become a television commentator, he attended all the lectures. But, at last, the love for playing won. Johnson joined the university basketball team Spartans where played with Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent and Mike Brkovich. On average, he made 17,0 points, 7,9 rebounds and 7,4 assists per match. In the first season, the team won Big Ten Conference and got the right to take part in the 1978 NCAA Tournament. In the tour, the Spartans were included in the list “TOP-8 best teams”.
In the next tournament, Spartans got to the final and faced Indiana State. A lot of people came to see the match. No one match earlier has gathered such a vast audience. After a nervous game, Michigan defeated Indiana with the score 75-64. Johnson, in his turn, got the title of Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
Being a college student, Johnson got 17,1 points, 7,6 rebounds and 7,9 assists per game. Two years later he decided to apply for the NBA draft 1979.
Professional basketball career
The draft happened to be successful for the young sportsman: the Los Angeles Lakers chose him. The legendary player, Johnson's idol Kareem Abdul-Jabbar performed there.
Although Abdul-Jabbar dominated in the league, he had not succeeded to win a championship with lakers. When Johnson joined the team, much changed. In his first season, he recorded 18,0 points, 7,7 rebounds and 7,3 assists per fight. As a result, he was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Team and was named an NBA All-Star Game starter.
Due to Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers got to the 1980 NBA Finals where they fought with the Philadelphia 76ers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got injured and couldn't perform on center. The team's governments replaced the player with Magic. In the match, Johnson recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals and 7 assists what helped the team win with the score 123-107. His perfect performance was one of the brightest playings in NBA history.
At the beginning of the season 1980/1981, Johnson got injured – he suffered torn cartilage in his left knee. He subsequently missed 45 matches. The sports experts said that the lack of such a brilliant player became the reason for team's loss in the final rings.
In summer 1981, Magic Johnson signed a 25-year $25 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It is one of the most famous sport deals ever.
In the season 1981/1982, there was a big scandal between Johnson and Westhead. Johnson called the latter "slow" and "predictable" and demanded to be traded to another team. However, instead of trading Earvin, the team fired Westhead. He was replaced with Riley. Subsequently, the league and fans criticized Johnson.
In spite of these problems, the player continued performing: he averaged 18,6 points, 9,6 rebounds, and 9,5 assists. Moreover, he became the NBA leader in terms of assists quantity (his average result was 2,7 assists per match).
In the playoff in 1982, Los Angeles Lakers succeeded to reach the final where they faced Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in 3 years. In the match, Johnson made a triple-double of 16,2 points, 10,8 rebounds, and 8,0 assists what helped the club win with the score 4-2.
Later Johnson noted that this season, the third for him, became the starting point for Lakers' development.
In the season 1982/1983, Johnson averaged 16,8 points, 10,5 rebounds, and 8,6 assists. Due to such results, he earned his first All-NBA First Team nomination. In the playoff, Lakers managed to reach final and faced Philadelphia 76ers again. Unfortunately, many Lakers' players got injured, and the club lost the final match. In that games, Johnson made 19,0 points, 12,5 assists, and 7,8 rebounds.
In the fifth NBA season, Magic Johnson got 17,6 points, 13,1 assists and 7,3 rebounds per game. Lakers got to the final for the third time, but, at last, faced not the 76ers, but the Celtics. Lakers defeated the opposers in the first game, but in the overtime, Celtics happened to improve the score in their favor. As a result, the Celtics won the series and became the champions. In the final fights, Johnson recorded 18,0 points, 13,6 assists and 7,7 rebounds per game.
In the season 1984/1985, Johnson averaged 18,3 points, 12,6 assists, and 6,2 rebounds. He led the team to the finals where they had to face Celtics again. That time luck was on the side of Lakers: Abdul-Jabbar alongside with Johnson helped the team win. This championship became the brightest performance in their careers.
In the next season, Johnson averaged 18,8 points, 12,6 assists, and 5,9 rebounds. Lakers succeeded to get to the final where the Houston Rockets beat them.
In the season 1986/87, the player set a personal record of points: he averaged 23,9 points per game, 12,2 assists and 6,3 rebounds. Johnson got the Most Valuable Player title. In the playoff Lakers reached the final and fought against the Celtics. Professional experts noted that Johnson was the only person to save the match: due to him, Lakers won with the score 4-2. Magic himself earned the MVP award for the third time. In the final games, Johnson averaged 26,2 points, 13,0 assists, 8,0 rebounds, and 2,3 steals.
In playoff 1988, Lakers got through the difficult matches and reached the finals where beat the Detroit Pistons. Interestingly, the Pistons' players Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Vinnie Johnson, and Dennis Rodman are known as “Bad boys” for their physical style of play. However, before their match, the opposers kissed each other on cheeks. In the game against the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers' player James Worthy made his first triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists and earned the MVP award. Subsequently, Lakers won with the score 108-105. Although Magic Johnson didn't get the MVP title, he scored 21,1 points, 13,0 assists and 5,7 rebounds per game.
In the season 1988/1989, Johnson got the second award of the Most Valuable Player for recording 22,5 points, 12,8 assists and 7,9 rebounds per game. Succeeding in the playoff, Lakers got to the final and played against the Detroit Pistons again. Because of Magic's trauma, Lakers became weak and vulnerable, and were beaten by the opposers with the score 4-0.
Before the 1989/1990 season, Abdul-Jabbar announced the end of his professional career. However, even without the colleague, Johnson shone: he earned the MVP award again, for the third time. The sportsman averaged 22,3 points, 11,5 assists and 6,6 rebounds per match. However, unfortunately, in the playoff the Lakers were defeated by the Phoenix Suns and didn't get to the final. It was the first Lakers's loss in the last 9 years.
In the season 1990/1991, Johnson starred with success. The player made 19,4 points, 12,5 assists and 7,0 rebounds per game and helped the Lakers reach the final. There the team faced Chicago Bulls. Its leader was Michae Jordan, one of the best basketball players. Alongside with the other leading player Scottie Pippen, he led the Bulls to the victory over the Lakers with the score 4-1. In the final series, Johnson recorded 18,6 points, 12,4 assists, and 8,0 rebounds. The games became the last for Johnson.
After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV. On November 7, 1991, at the press conference, he announced that he would stop working. Also, he declared that Cookie, his wife and kids were healthy. The sportsman decided to dedicate the rest of his life to struggling with this disease.
Initially, Johnson said he didn't know how he had contracted HIV. Later he confessed to having numerous sexual partners. The rumors appeared: many people thought Magic to be gay or bisexual. Although, the sportsman denied the gossips.
His disease became a major news story in the USA, it was on every highlight. In 2004 ESPN called this situation the seventh most memorable moments of the previous 25 years. Because of his strength and desire to help other infected people, the sportsman was called a hero. The former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said, "For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports."
In spite of Magics decision to retire, he was voted by fans as a starter for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game at Orlando Arena. Some of his former colleagues and opposers didn't agree; they were afraid of contamination. Nevertheless, Magic played perfectly: having scored 25 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds, he led the team to the victory with the score 153-113 and got the Most Valuable Player title. One week later, on February 16, 1992, his jersey with the number 32 was assigned forever to Johnson.
In summer 1992, Magic Johnson took part in the Summer Olympics playing for the United States national team. The team would later be called the "Dream Team" cause its members were the best NBA players. In the tournament, Johnson averaged 8,0 points, 5,5 assists, and 2,3 rebounds. In the final match against Croatia, the player made 11 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal.
In 1992 Magic decided to start performing again. However, he was forced to deny the idea cause a lot of players were against his return.
In the season 1995/1996 Magic tried returning to basketball one more time. Performing as a power forward, he made 14,6 points, 6,9 assists, and 5,7 rebounds on average. However, he lost the first match in the playoff, changed his mind and retired permanently, saying, "I am going out on my terms, something I couldn't say when I aborted a comeback in 1992."
In 1993 Johnson returned to NBA as a coacher for the Lakers as a replacement for Randy Pfund. The team lost 6 of 11 first matches, and he decided to give up. '
In June 1994, he purchased a 5% share of the team.
In 2012 Magic Johnson group bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.
In 1981 Magic Johnson became a father for the first time. His girlfriend Melissa Mitchell gave birth to their son called Andre. Although Andre Johnson officially lived with the mother, he visited Magic every simmer. In October 2005, he started working as a Marketing Director in his father's company “Magic Johnson Enterprises”.
In 1991 Magic married Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly. The couple invited to the wedding only close friends - Thomas, Aguirre, and Herb Williams. They have two children: a son Earvin III (EJ), who is openly gay and a star on the reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and adopted daughter Elisa.
In 905 NBA games, Johnson set a personal record: he tallied 17,707 points, 6,559 rebounds, and 10,141 assists, translating to career average stats of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game, the highest assists per game average in NBA history. He holds the All-Star Game single-game record for assists (22) and the All-Star Game record for career assists.
Johnson is the only player in NBA Finals history to have triple-doubles in multiple series-clinching games.
For his feats, Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.ESPN's SportsCentury ranked Johnson #17 in their "50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century". In 2006, ESPN.com rated Johnson, the greatest point guard of all time.
The former sportsmen wears the shoes of 14 size.
In 1998 Johnson created a night-show “The Magic Hour” on the Fox network. However, the show got a low rating and was canceled.
Magic owns the company “ Magic Johnson Enterprises" which currently costs $700 million. The company includes Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters (one of them is situated in New York, Harlem 9); and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a movie studio.
For 7 years Johnson has worked as a sport commentator on the TNT channel. In 2008 he started working for the ESPN as a studio analyst. In 2006 Johnson signed with Sodexo USA.
Johnson supports a democratic party. So, in 2006, he publicly endorsed Phil Angelides, a candidate for governor of California. In 2007 he supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign, and in 2010 he endorsed Barbara Boxer in her race for re-election to the US Senate.
In November 1991, Magic Johnson founded the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV. In 1992, he was included in the National Commission on AIDS but left it 8 months later, having said that the organization didn't work much. In 1999 he made a speech at the Conference dedicated to World AIDS Day. Then he was called a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Earlier people thought that only junkies and gays are inclined to HIV. But Johnson showed that every person has a risk to get infected without observing appropriate measures.
To avoid the progress of his disease, he took pills and medical cocktails. In September 2002, the doctors stated that the sportsman had no symptoms of AIDS.
Magic Johnson has an estimated net worth of $600 million.