Magic Johnson is one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. He was drafted No. 1 over all by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 draft.
However, this pick did not originally belong to the Lakers. They received the pick in 1976 when Gail Goodrich signed with the then New Orleans Jazz. The Lakers allowed Goodrich to sign with the Jazz in exchange for two first-round picks and a second, including the first overall pick in 1979, which ended up being Magic Johnson.
With the pick the Lakers received, one has to wonder, what would have happened had the Jazz not signed Goodrich and did not have to give up the top overall pick, allowing them to select Magic for themselves?
To start, let's look at the Jazz's standpoint. Would having Magic Johnson on the team given the city of New Orleans enough of a fan base to keep the organization in New Orleans rather than leave for Utah?
If Magic would have been in a Jazz uniform, would he have been able to win a championship with "Pistol" Pete Maravich? After Maravich, would the Jazz have had enough firepower with Magic and then-All-Star Adrian Dantley to possibly add to the number of championships Maravich and Magic may have already won?
Even if it would not have prevented the move to Utah, the Jazz would not have used their first-round pick in 1984 on John Stockton as they would have had Magic firmly planted as their PG. This would have taken away one of, if not the most, beloved players in Jazz history.
To add to the scenario even if a duo of Magic Johnson and Adrian Dantley would not have won a championship it would have at least made them a contender. This in turn would have given them a lower pick in 1985 when they originally selected Karl Malone. Would Malone have been available to pick where the Jazz would have selected?
If the Jazz had not been able to draft Stockton or Malone, the phrase "Stockton to Malone" never would have come to fruition. The entire history of the Jazz organization would have been altered, but would it have been for the better? They may not have had Stockton or Malone, but if Magic and Maravich/Dantley would have brought that elusive championship to Utah, it is hard to argue it would not have been worth it.
What about the history of the Lakers?
They won an impressive five championships during Magic's tenure with the team. They also made the championship five other times.
Would the Lakers have won any of those championships without Magic? He was Finals MVP in three of those series. It is an understatement to say Magic was an important part of the Lakers throughout his career. Yes, he had Kareem, but Magic was the soul of those teams.
Without Magic leading the Lakers through the playoffs the heated rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics during this time would not have existed, at least not to the extent to which it became. Would the Lakers and Celtics rivalry have become the Celtics and Jazz, or Celtics and Rockets? Or would there have been no great rivalries of the '80s?
Twelve years of NBA history would have been drastically changed if the Jazz would have decided not to sign Goodrich. Rivalries and series, which are considered some of the greatest in NBA history would not have ever happened.
Would Bird and Magic have attained the lore they did without their epic battles in the Finals? I guess we will never know...
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