Basketball legend, Magic Johnson was born on August 14, 1959. Magic Johnson is one of the all time greats who played for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After winning a championship at both the high school and college level, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers. Johnson won a championship and a Finals MVP award in his first season, and the Lakers went on to win a total of five championships during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had HIV, but he returned to win the MVP of 1992 All-Star Game. He retired again for four years after protests from his fellow players, but he returned in 1996 to play 32 games for the Lakers, before retiring for the third and final time.
“Magic is head-and-shoulders above everybody else,” Larry Bird once observed in the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve never seen [anybody] as good as him.”
Magic Johnson’s career achievements include five NBA championships, three Most Valuable Player Awards, and three Finals Most Valuable Player Awards. He also played in nine NBA Finals series, 12 All-Star games, and was voted into 10 All-NBA First and Second Teams. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and he is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists per game with an average of 11.2 per game. Johnson was also a member of the “Dream Team” U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992.
Magic Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, and enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. He was also rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, based on regular games at championship level between the Lakers and Celtics, were well-documented. Since his retirement, he has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as a philanthropist.
Ever since the 1979 NCAA Finals, in which Magic Johnson’s Michigan State squad defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana State team, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were linked as rivals. From 1980 to 1988, their respective Lakers and Celtics teams won eight of nine NBA titles. The rivalry reached its climax in the mid-’80s, when their teams met in three NBA Finals (1984, 1985, 1987). Johnson appreciated the rivalry greatly, asserting that for him, the 82 game regular season was composed of 80 normal games and “the two”, i.e. the Lakers-Celtics games. Similarly, Bird admitted that Johnson’s box score was the first thing he looked at after every game day, stating everything else was unimportant.
Several journalists hypothesised that the Johnson-Bird rivalry was so appealing because it represented many other rivalries, such as the clash between Lakers and Celtics, between Hollywood flash (“Showtime”) and Boston/Indiana blue collar grit (“Celtic Pride”), and between blacks and whites. Apart from the on-court differences, the rivalry proved significant because it drew national attention to the faltering NBA. Prior to Johnson and Bird, the league had gone through a decade of declining interest and low TV ratings. With the two Hall-of-Famers, the league won a whole generation of new fans, drawing both traditionalist adherents of Bird’s dirt court Indiana game and those appreciative of Johnson’s public park flair. Sports journalist Larry Schwartz of ESPN even went as far as to assert that Johnson and Bird saved the NBA from bankruptcy.
Despite their on-court rivalry Johnson and Bird became good friends privately, ironically during the filming of a joint 1984 Converse shoe ad which was meant to depict them as enemies. When Bird retired in 1992, Johnson appeared at his retirement ceremony and described Bird as a “friend forever”, and during Johnson’s induction into the Hall of Fame, Bird formally inducted Johnson in the ceremony.
For the 2008 NBA Finals, which featured a rematch of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, Johnson appeared in a split-screen advertisement with Bird (as part of the “There Can Only Be One” campaign which had played throughout the 2008 NBA Playoffs but to that point only featured players from the two teams competing in a given series) discussing the meaning of rivalries.
Johnson went on to form Magic Johnson Enterprises. For over 25 years, Magic Johnson Enterprises has been a leader in revitalizing and providing quality entertainment, products and services to ethnically diverse, urban communities. Magic Johnson Enterprises serves as a catalyst for community and economic empowerment by making available high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse, urban communities.
Through strategic investment, partnership and consultation, Magic Johnson Enterprises has a portfolio of companies that strategically work together to reinforce the organization’s focus on serving emerging, multicultural communities. Core divisions of the organization include a consulting and licensing division, business venture division, and a capital management division.
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