Most fans know Earvin Johnson simply as "Magic" because of the unworldly basketball skills he demonstrates on the court.
Many may feel he is one of the greatest basketball players. And on Friday, his greatness at the game will officially be recognized, as he will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Magic headlines the 44th class to be inducted in the Hall. The Harlem Globetrotters, the late Drazen Petrovic and coaches Larry Brown, Lute Olson and Kay Yow will join him as members of the 2002 Hall of Fame class.
The 6-foot-9-inch point guard turned entrepreneur can reflect on a career which included championships on every level he played: high school, the NCAA, five NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal with the original Dream Team in 1992.
Following his 1991 retirement from the NBA and the subsequent comeback, he also played with the Harlem Globetrotters. Magic entertained fans with his playmaking abilities abound the world, and he always did it with a recognizable smile.
With Larry Bird, the stars of the college class of 1979 brought the art of passing back to forefront in basketball and helped save an NBA which was suffering from declining television ratings.
Johnson accomplished virtually everything a player could dream of during his 13-year NBA career, all of which was spent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a member of five championship teams. He won the Most Valuable Player Award and the Finals MVP Award three times each. He was a 12-time All-Star and a nine-time member of the All-NBA First Team. He surpassed Robertson's career assists record, a mark he later relinquished to John Stockton (in 1995).
Facts About Earvin "Magic" Johnson
- Earvin Johnson Jr. was born on Aug. 14, 1959 and grew up in Lansing, Mich., with nine brothers and sisters
- His neighbors use to call him "Junior," or "June Bug"
- Johnson was first called "Magic" by a sports writer who had just seen the 15-year-old prepster notch 36 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists as a star at Everett High School
- For college, Magic attended Michigan State in East Lansing
- As an All-America sophomore, Johnson directed his team to the national title in 1979, beating Larry Bird's Indiana State squad
- Johnson passed up his final two seasons at Michigan State and entered the 1979 NBA Draft
- The Utah Jazz were supposed to have the first draft pick of 1979 but they had conveyed their pick to the Los Angeles Lakers three years earlier as compensation for a free-agent
- Johnson became the first rookie to start in an NBA All-Star Game since Elvin Hayes 11 years earlier
- The Lakers won the NBA championship in Johnson's rookie season
- Johnson stunned the world with the announcement that he had tested positive for the HIV virus and was retiring from the NBA in 1991
- Magic made a brief comeback to the NBA in 1995, but retired once again after the season
- In 1994, Johnson purchased a share of the Lakers and became a part-owner
- In 1995, Johnson opened a chain of movie theaters in minority neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, an enterprise he later took to other cities
- In 1996-97, Johnson was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team