LENNOX MCLENDON/Associated Press
This shouldn’t serve as a surprise to anyone.
Magic revolutionized the game of basketball and the point guard position with dazzling no-look passes, an unbreakable will to win and a charismatic personality. Widely considered as the best of all time at the position, Earvin Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA titles.
Additionally, his 11.2 assists per game for a career are the most of all time. Magic’s innate ability to control games with his vision and leadership is still unmatched.
Just one year into his pro career, he conquered the NBA world in heroic fashion.
The 6’9” Johnson was asked to start at center for Game 7 of the NBA Finals due to teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s ankle injury. Not only did Johnson play center, but he dominated, scoring 42 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. It was an iconic performance for Magic, which he capped by sinking a sky-hook in the paint to seal the victory.
A legend was born at that moment.
Magic went on to capture three MVPs, continue his popular rivalry with his nemesis, Larry Bird, and assert himself as arguably the greatest player of that era.
Unfortunately, his career essentially ended with his diagnosis of HIV. The deadly virus forced Johnson out of the game for four subsequent years. He staged a comeback in the 1995-96 season but only played in 32 games.
What this former Spartan managed to accomplish in just 12 seasons of playing is truly remarkable. He fueled his team to nine NBA Finals appearances, winning five of them, and he established himself as the best point guard of all time. Despite the consensus that Michael Jordan is the greatest to ever play, it remains unknown how the early 1990s era would have unfolded with Johnson’s presence.
As a high school kid, he earned the nickname, “Magic.” During his time at MSU, he reinvigorated America’s interest in college basketball. As an NBA player, he broke the mold, became a legend and cemented his legacy.