Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. (born August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan) is a 6' 9" (2.06 m) former American professional basketball star who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s and early 1990s. Playing point guard, he led the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988), as well as four other NBA Finals appearances. He also led Michigan State University to the NCAA title in 1979 against arch-rival Larry Bird's Indiana State University. Johnson is also the only NBA rookie to win the NBA Finals MVP Award. He is one of only four players to win NCAA and NBA championships in consecutive years.
Johnson earned the nickname "Magic" at Everett High School in Lansing from a local sports writer, both for his flamboyant passing style and winning ways. In different periods of his career, he led the league in assists and steals. He led the Lakers in scoring three times (1987, 1989, 1990) and in rebounding twice (1982, 1983). Although he and Bird eventually became the best of friends off the court, they revived the heated Lakers-Celtics Rivalry and drew millions of new fans to the NBA.
The greatest game of Johnson's career arguably came in his rookie season: May 16, 1980, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Philadelphia. Filling in for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic started the game at center and eventually played every position on the floor in a dominating performance. Scoring a game-high 42 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds, he led the Lakers to the NBA crown, stunning Julius Erving, the Philadelphia 76ers, and a national television audience who came to understand the moniker "Magic". Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to championships in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
On the court
Johnson possessed stellar point guard talent. His unselfish playmaking and dazzling no-look passes on the fast break ushered in the "Showtime" era of Laker basketball, which dominated the eighties. He is widely considered to be one of the most exciting playmakers of the NBA, maybe the best of all time. At 6' 9", a size normally reserved for power forwards, Johnson was also easily one of the largest point guards ever to play on NBA level. He revolutionised the concept of the "oversized point guard", able to post up and outmuscle his much smaller opposition. His stature, paired with his talent, let him play virtually every position from center to point guard.
Statistically, Johnson was probably the greatest offensive producer ever. Assuming every assist creates 2 points, he created 54.85 points per 48 minutes, compared to Michael Jordan's 50.98 or Wilt Chamberlain's 40.82.
Outside of basketball, Johnson is probably most well known for his announcement on November 7, 1991, that he had HIV and he would retire immediately from the game of basketball after twelve years with the Lakers. Johnson's announcement shocked the nation into awareness about the AIDS epidemic and made people realize the potential harm and danger of this horrible disease.
Johnson produced another book called What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS. Money from the book was donated to the Magic Johnson Foundation for the prevention, education,and research to fight AIDS.
His post-basketball business ventures include Magic Johnson Theatres, a nationwide chain of movie theaters whose complexes are primarily in urban locations. The chain is now a part of Loews Theatres, but is operated as a separate entity. More recently, his interests have expanded from a shortlived 1998 talk show "The Magic Hour", to ownership of several Starbucks franchises, again primarily in urban locations. Johnson is believed to have earned significantly more money from post-basketball ventures than from his playing days and endorsement deals.
Johnson also works as an NBA studio analyst for TNT.
Johnson was ranked #5 in SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.