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The Los Angeles Lakers are a National Basketball Association team based in Los Angeles, California. They are notable for having (at the end of the 2004–05 season) the most wins (2,621), the highest winning percentage (61.9%), the most finals appearances (28), and the second most championships (14), behind the Boston Celtics who have 16. They also have the record for most consecutive wins in a season (33). Los Angeles Lakers Players
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Magic Johnson


August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan
55 pounds

1st Overall, 1979 Los Angeles Lakers

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. (born August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan) is an American former basketball player, widely regarded as one of the purest passers and best point guards in the game's history. He has won championships at every level of competition - high school, collegiate, professional, and international. His college career at Michigan State University reinvigorated the game of basketball. The 1979 National Championship between Michigan State and Larry Bird's Indiana State, with Michigan State winning the NCAA Championship, was the most watched college basketball game in history. His professional career consisted of 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won five NBA championships, was named to the NBA All-Star team 12 times, was league MVP three times, and NBA Finals MVP three times. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, and was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. In 1991 he became one of the first sports-celebrities to announce his HIV-seropositivity, and as one of the most well known public figures to be HIV-positive, he has continually worked to educate and raise awareness of the disease.

From his first days playing the game as a high school All-American at Everett High School in Lansing, Johnson was a unique player. He earned the nickname "Magic" when he was only 15 from local sports writer Fred Stabley Jr., who watched him put up 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists in one game. In 1977, Magic's senior year, he led Everett High School to a 27-1 record and a state championship, averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds for the year.

At 6'9", he was as tall as some centers yet played the point guard position (he still remains the tallest dedicated point guard in NBA history). Choosing a college close to home, Johnson put up impressive numbers his freshman year, and helped Michigan State University earn a Big Ten Conference title; the Spartans lost in the Mideast Region final to eventual champions Kentucky. His sophomore year in college, Johnson took the team even farther, winning the NCAA national title in 1979, beating player-of-the-year Larry Bird's Indiana State University. It remains the most widely watched title game in history.

Leaving college after his sophomore year, Johnson was the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, chosen by the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson's impact was immediate. The Lakers were a talented team and featured one of the game's greatest centers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Kareem had been unable to get the Lakers to the championship series in his previous two seasons. Many observers felt that it was Johnson who pushed the Lakers from being a good team to a great one. He combined the skills of the "true" point guard with those of a forward and a center, and fit in well with the Lakers scheme. Featuring a fast-breaking style with often dazzling passes, the Lakers were winning games in such an exciting fashion they were dubbed "Showtime" by fans and the media. Johnson played with a great joy that was infectious, and the Lakers not only became a fun team to watch, but a team that seemed to be having fun playing. Only the Boston Celtics, featuring eventual Rookie of the Year Larry Bird, and the Philadelphia 76ers, with the dynamic Julius Erving, matched the Lakers in fan popularity.

In Johnson's first NBA post-season, the Lakers met the 76ers in the NBA Finals. As had been true throughout the season, Abdul-Jabbar was the key to the Lakers' success. However, in a game five victory, the Laker center suffered a severely sprained ankle. The Lakers led the best-of-seven series three-games-to-two, but were traveling to Philadelphia for game six without their best player and that year's league MVP (the sixth time Kareem had won the award). In a move that shocked and delighted fans outside of Philadelphia, point guard Magic Johnson, still not yet age 21, started the game as center in Abdul-Jabbar's place, and eventually played every position on the floor, delivering arguably the finest game of his NBA career, scoring 42 points, pulling down 15 rebounds, and passing out 7 assists. The Lakers won game six and with it the NBA championship. Johnson was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, being the only rookie to have ever won the award. Johnson is also one of only four players to win NCAA and NBA championships in consecutive years.

Coming off a disappointing 1980-81 campaign where the Lakers failed to defend their title, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers started off the 1981-82 season winning. But under Head Coach Paul Westhead the fast-breaking style of the previous years appeared to be replaced by a more deliberate offensive game plan focusing on the half-court effectiveness of Abdul-Jabbar. While far from being the only player critical of the new offense, Johnson was the first to voice his concerns publicly. After a road win against the Utah Jazz, Johnson, who earlier had a verbal altercation with Westhead, demanded a trade from the team. Laker Owner Jerry Buss instead fired Westhead, inviting league-wide scorn. For perhaps the first time in his career, Johnson found himself being booed by fans across the league, even in Los Angeles. The controversy was shortlived; Westhead was replaced by Assistant Coach and former broadcaster Pat Riley, and Johnson and the Lakers went on to win the 1982 NBA Title.

Throughout the 1970s the NBA suffered through low attendance and minimal television viewership, interest in the NBA had declined to the point where it was common opinion that the team-oriented college game was more exciting than the individual superstar-emphasized, and violently physical pro game of the era. The NBA was a distant third in popularity among pro-sports behind the NFL and Major League Baseball. But with the rising popularity of Johnson and Bird in the 1980s the NBA began enjoying a resurgence. Their first three years in the league produced three championships, two for Magic (1979-80, 1981-82) and one for Bird (1980-81). Ever since their highly publicized match-up in the 1979 NCAA Championship game, Johnson and the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird had been inextricably linked as rivals. Their quick success only helped to fuel the rivalry, as did a long held historical rift between the teams, who had met six times previously for the NBA title in the 1960's, all six times the Celtics emerged victorious.

Contests between Bird's Celtics and Magic's Lakers--both during the regular season and in the Finals--attracted enormous television audiences. Not since Boston's Bill Russell squared off against the Lakers' Wilt Chamberlain had professional basketball enjoyed such a marquee matchup. The apparent contrast between the two players and their respective teams seemed scripted for television: Bird, the introverted small-town hero with the blue-collar work ethic, fit perfectly with the throwback, hard-nosed style of the Celtics, while the stylish, gregarious Johnson ran the Lakers' fast-paced "Showtime" offense amidst the bright lights and celebrities of Los Angeles. A 1984 Converse commercial for its "Weapon" line of basketball shoes (endorsed by both Bird and Johnson) reflected the perceived dichotomy between the two players. In the commercial, Bird is practicing alone on a rural basketball court when Johnson pulls up in a sleek limousine and challenges him to a one-on-one match. In fact, their playing styles were not that dissimilar; both relied on knowledge of the game more than pure athletic ability, each made a point of involving his entire team, and both were remarkable passers.

Despite the intensity of their rivalry, Bird and Johnson became friends off the court. Their friendship blossomed when the two players worked together to film the 1984 Converse commercial, which depicted them as archenemies. Johnson appeared at Bird's retirement ceremony in 1992 and emotionally described Bird as a "friend forever."

When the two teams met in 1984 for the NBA Championship, many Los Angeles Lakers looked at it as a chance to give the franchise what it never had before; a victory over the Boston Celtics. In one of the more memorable series in NBA history, the Celtics won the championship in seven games. The Lakers were plagued by mistakes at key moments in the series and Johnson made his share of errors. Bird excelled and was named Finals MVP. The Lakers were devastated by the loss, Johnson particularly so. There was a perception after that series that while Johnson was the flashier player, it was Bird and the Celtics who possessed a work ethic that defeated the more stylistic Lakers. Deeply chastened by the defeat (Celtic forward Kevin McHale had come up with the nickname "Tragic" to describe Johnson's moodiness in the off-season), the Lakers recommitted themselves and won the 1985 championship against the Celtics. Many of the Lakers said that winning the championship in game six on the Boston Garden floor was the biggest thrill of their careers. In the 1986-87 season Magic Johnson had the best season of his career. He led the Lakers with 23.9 PPG and 12.2 APG. The Lakers finished the 1987 season with a league-leading 65-17 win-loss record and Johnson was later named the NBA's Most Valuable Player. In the post-season the Lakers cruised to an amazing 11-1 record before they met the Celtics in the NBA Finals once again. The Lakers would eventually win the series 4-2 and Magic would end up with the NBA Finals MVP. The Lakers would go on to repeat their win in the 1988 NBA Finals, winning a hard fought series against an injury-slowed Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons that went all seven games.

During the 80s, the Celtics or the Lakers appeared in every NBA finals, with Johnson and Bird capturing eight championships between the two of them, Magic and the Lakers winning five while Larry Bird and the Celtics took home three. Their legacies and talent cemented them and their teams as one of the greatest rivalries in sports, and catapulted the NBA back into popularity drawing in millions of new fans. Through the decade Johnson continued to improve his all-around game. Johnson was a consistent statistical leader, leading the Lakers in scoring three times (1986-87, 1988-89, and 1989-90) and in rebounding twice (1981-82 and 1982-83), as well as leading the league in assists four times and in steals in two consecutive seasons.

1988's repeat championship would also be the last of Magic Johnson's career, though in the following seasons he and the Lakers would continue to perform strongly. Johnson garnered his third MVP award in the 1989-90 season and maintained his string of years being named to the All-Star team, a consecutive 11 times (12 total) extending from 1982 to the year after his retirement in 1992.

The Lakers also continued their reign of the Pacific Division, earning division titles every year until Johnson's last 1990-91 season, which broke a nine year streak of division titles (10 total during Johnson's career). The Lakers still finished the year with a respectable 58-24 record, and that season saw Magic Johnson surpass Oscar Robertson as the all time assists leader (John Stockton would surpass Johnson's record in 1995). Though the Lakers came in second to the Portland Trailblazers in the regular season, they would go on to beat them in the Western Conference Finals, giving the Lakers their 9th Conference title championsip in 12 full seasons Johnson played. The Lakers lost the 1991 NBA Finals 4-1 to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the first of their eventual six championships.

On November 7, 1991 Magic Johnson shocked the nation, announcing that he was HIV-positive and after twelve years with the Lakers would retire immediately from the game of basketball. Despite having retired and not playing a single game of the 1991-92 regular season, he returned to play his final All-Star game after being voted to the team in 1992. Johnson and the West routed the East team 153-113, and Johnson's 25 points and 9 assists earned him his second All-Star MVP award. Johnson would continue his playing career further, going on to play for the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. Playing alongside fellow superstars such as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, the Dream Team is considered to be one of the greatest collections of sports talent to play competitively on the same squad; the team went undefeated, handily beating back its international competition and winning the Olympic gold medal. Following the summer Olympics, Johnson announced he would return to the NBA for the 1992-93 season and began practicing with the team, even playing during the 1992 preseason, but citing personal reasons he opted out before the season's start and headed back to retirement.

Johnson would make two more brief returns to the game. He stepped in as coach for the final 16 games of the 1993-94 season, replacing Randy Pfund. He managed only a 5-11 record in those games, and the Lakers missed the playoffs. Though the Lakers had hoped he would stay on, Magic chose not to return to the position the next season. But in the 1995-96 season Magic would again come back to the game late in the season, this time as a player. Magic returned as a power forward, and played the last 32 games of the season averaging 14.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, and Johnson retired for his final time.

Throughout the late 90s and on Magic continued to make appearances on the court, most often in charity games such as his Midsummer Night's Magic game in 1999 at UCLA, where he played with NBA stars Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. In the late 90s he also explored his long held desire for ownership of a team, first with the Swedish Magic M7, a team he also played with for five games in 1999. The team performed very well, including going unbeaten in all five games Magic played in. In 2000 he moved on to another Scandinavian club, developing and owning the Magic Great Danes, while he also played a game with this club, it was in a losing effort which he got injured, preventing any further appearances. He also played some games in the Summer Pro League, a two week playoff-type event that occurs before the start of the NBA season, usually consisting of upcoming NBA rookies, and sometimes more established players looking to get in shape, as well as the occasional retired star such as Magic Johnson. In 2006 he appeared in his LA Lakers uniform for the first time since 1993 as part of the NBA All-Star Game as part of the Players Skills Challenge along with Steve Kerr

Cover of Johnson's 1996 paperback book.Johnson is rumored to be the head coach of the Hollywood Fame, a team in the 21st century incarnation of the ABA.

Currently Johnson is CEO of his own business, Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE). 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 it is operated as a separate entity. He's also developed several Starbucks franchises in urban locations. In 1998 he attempted a talk show, The Magic Hour, though it was quickly cancelled. He has since gotten back in front of the camera, working as an NBA studio analyst for TNT. His name graces numerous TGI Friday's franchises as well as 24 Hour Fitness Magic Johnson Sport franchises, the flagship of which is in the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Additionally, he has started a private lending bank that specializes in giving micro loans to urban start ups. Magic also owns a part of the Dayton Dragons, a very successful Minor League baseball team and threw out the first pitch for the first ever game played for the Dragons. Johnson is believed to have earned significantly more money from post-basketball ventures than from his playing days and endorsement deals and has an estimated net worth of $800 million.

He also participates in a number of charity ventures, including his own Magic Johnson Foundation, which helps inner-city communities deal with issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and raises funds for research and prevention efforts. In 1996 Johnson wrote a book called What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS. Money from the book was donated to the Magic Johnson Foundation.

In recent years, Johnson has been active in supporting members of the Democratic Party. In 2001, he supported Rocky Delgadillo for City Attorney of Los Angeles.

In 2005, Johnson endorsed then-Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa for Mayor of Los Angeles.

In 2006, Johnson announced he endorsed California State Treasurer Phil Angelides for Governor, citing dissatisfaction of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He said, "I love him as an actor, comedian, but not as governor." He also said, "California needs a new Governor. Phil Angelides has the business experience, the proven leadership skills, and the vision to be a great Governor. As Governor, Angelides will renew opportunity for Californians, so we can have the best schools, the best colleges and the best chances for our children."

Lakers Players News

Bryant sparks Lakers, feeds talk of Wilt, MJ feats (USA Today) Kobe Bryant seems to have a sense of NBA history both making it and remembering it. His string of 50 or more points in a game ended at four when he had 43 in Sunday night's 115-113 Los Angeles Lakers victory against the Golden State Warriors. The result was five consecutive Lakers wins and a scoring average of 53.6 points in the process, evoking memories of great scorers like Wilt Chamberlain and ...

Oswego State Lakers Celebrate Title (WSTM-TV NBC 3) OSWEGO -- The brand new Campus Center Ice Arena at SUNY Oswego was packed tonight. The Lakers men's hockey team was suited up in green and yellow and on the ice, but no game was being played. Insteasd, it was all about a game that was played nearly two weeks ago.

Preview: Rockets at Lakers ( In March, the Los Angeles Lakers are 5-0 when Kobe Bryant scores more than 40 points, and 0-8 when he doesn't. Bryant will look for another dominating offensive performance as the Lakers host the Houston Rockets on Friday in a matchup bet...

Lakers Prepare For Baseball Opener (KXMB CBS12 Bismarck) This year's Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers baseball team will look to its defense as the Lakers try to contend for a region title. About 20 players are out for this year's squad with about 5 full-time returning starters. Head coach Andy Lach says without a d

Lakers had a Grizzly performance (Orange County Register) Memphis was supposed to be dead on arrival. It came to life against the Lakers.

Kobe slips as Lakers fall to Grizzlies (AP via Yahoo! News) Kobe Bryant followed up five sensational games with one of his worst performances in recent memory. Bryant, who scored at least 40 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' previous five games, including at least 50 in the first four, had only 23 Tuesday night in an embarrassing 88-86 loss to the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies.

Grizzlies get sweet revenge on Bryant, Lakers (USA Today) The Memphis Grizzlies were determined to keep Kobe Bryant from having a second big game against them in a span of six days. They couldn't have imagined being so successful. Bryant's string of outstanding games came to an ugly end, and rookies Tarence Kinsey and Rudy Gay led the lowly Grizzlies to a shocking 88-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing ...

Kobe's Streak Ends; Lakers Embarrassed (Washington Post) Kobe Bryant is held to 7-of-26 shooting and only 23 points as his string of five-straight 40 point games comes to an end in the Lakers' damaging 88-86 home loss to Memphis.

Bryant fizzles as Lakers lose to league-worst Memphis (AFP via Yahoo! News) Tarence Kinsey scored a season-high 24 points and Rudy Gay added 20 and 12 rebounds as Memphis slowed down Kobe Bryant and posted an 88-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday.

Jackson at loss for Lakers' play (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) EL SEGUNDO - Lakers coach Phil Jackson had sat through too many losses this season to teams with losing records to let what happened Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies pass without comment.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Tom Abernethy
Lucius Allen
Chucky Atkins
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Wilt Chamberlain
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