Earvin Johnson, who played his entire National Basketball Association (NBA) career with the Los Angeles Lakers, earned the nickname Magic after an extraordinary performance in a high school game. Johnson was named NBA most valuable player in 1987, 1989, and 1990. In 1991 Johnson learned that he had been infected with the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and he started an educational campaign to raise awareness of the disease.
Magic Johnson, born in 1959, American professional basketball player, who helped the Los Angeles Lakers become one of the dominating professional basketball teams of the 1980s. He is considered one of the greatest point guards and playmakers in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Earvin Johnson was born in Lansing, Michigan, and acquired the nickname Magic after a high school game in which he scored 36 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and made 16 assists. Playing mostly point guard at Michigan State University, the 2.1-m (6-ft 9-in) Johnson helped lead Michigan State to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament finals in 1979. The team then defeated Indiana State University and its star player, Larry Bird, for the NCAA title. Bird, who later played for the Boston Celtics in the NBA, was considered Johnson's chief on-court rival during the 1980s.
Johnson left college in 1979, after his sophomore year, to join the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988). In 1980 Johnson became the first rookie to be named most valuable player (MVP) of the NBA championship finals. He was named NBA championship finals MVP again in 1982 and 1987 and was the NBA's season MVP three times (1987, 1989, 1990). He played in many All-Star games and, at the time of his retirement, held the NBA record for assists, with 9921. (John Stockton broke the record in 1995.) Both Johnson and Bird helped their teams become the dominating teams in the NBA during the 1980s, and both are credited with helping revitalize fan interest in the NBA.
In the fall of 1991 Johnson announced that he had tested positive for the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and he retired from basketball. He became a national spokesperson for AIDS awareness and prevention, and he established a foundation to promote AIDS research. His book What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS was published in 1992. After Johnson's poignant return to the 1992 NBA All-Star game, the Lakers retired his jersey number (32). Johnson was a member of the United States basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and served briefly on the President's Council on AIDS. He then announced his return to professional basketball, and in September 1992 he signed another contract with the Lakers. In November of that year, however, he once again announced that he would retire because of the controversy concerning his return to basketball. He subsequently became a television sports commentator.
Late in the 1993-1994 season, Johnson became head coach of the Lakers. At the conclusion of the season, however, he resigned his position, citing frustration over player attitudes as well as his pursuit of other interests. One project he then developed was a 12-screen cinema complex that he opened in 1995 in south central Los Angeles. In 1996 Johnson rejoined the Lakers as a player, first selling the ownership share that he had acquired in the team, as mandated by NBA rules. After the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the 1996 playoffs, however, Johnson retired again.
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