Magic Johnson was a prominent figure in the “Lakers” era of the 1980s, and he played an important role in the rise of the NBA. However, he returned to the league in 1996 after a brief retirement, and it was a different experience overall.
Johnson won the NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Some of his key teammates during these championship runs included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and Michael Cooper.
In 1991, following an NBA Finals loss to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Johnson was diagnosed with HIV, prompting his first retirement. He returned in 1995 after a brief stint as Lakers coach.
In his second game back, Magic Johnson faced the eventual champion Chicago Bulls and experienced his second “Welcome to the League” moment against a Jordan-led team.
“They really showed me the difference between a championship team and a playoff team,” Magic said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“They were a championship team; we were just an average team. They played me hard. They were physical; they pushed me around. “
Magic teammates that season included Vlade Divac, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. They had a respectable season together, going 53-29.
Magic also revealed that Jordan gave him tough career advice.
“Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside,” Magic recalled, “and I don’t think I ever told anyone about it.
“He put me in between the locker rooms and he said, ‘Ervin, you have to remember now, you’re not with Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar); you’re not with James Worthy Together. Everyone you’ve ever played with “Showtime is no longer a part of the Lakers. So remember, maybe you should consider retirement. “
Magic retired after that season, and the Lakers were eliminated in the first round by the Houston Rockets.
For Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson is the best point guard
While Jordan’s words may sound strong, it’s worth noting that during his retirement, Jordan always had a deep respect for Magic Johnson.
In August, Stephen A. Smith revealed that Jordan personally conveyed to him that Magic holds the title of the greatest point guard of all time.
“While the greatest things are always up for debate, I beg to differ on who is the greatest point guard of all time… Magic Johnson is easily the best point guard of all time. Stephen Curry is very close, but not In front of Magic,” Jordan said, according to Smith.
Jordan’s alleged message to Smith included acknowledging that Curry is “by far the best shooter.”
Despite this, Jordan emphasized that Magic was the pioneer of the triple-double. He highlighted Magic’s impressive accomplishment of winning five NBA championships, one more than Stephen Curry.
“Yes, (Curry’s) running creates a lot of shooting opportunities for his teammates. His career three-point shooting percentage is 43%, but the triple-double was invented by Magic Johnson,” Jordan’s text read .
“It’s not really an invention, but its impact on the game is more obvious. To be honest, this is a point guard’s stat. The Magic are the best. We could go on, but I don’t want to take up too much of your time.” Yes It’s time. I know you get it. Magic, by the way, has five NBA championships. “
Johnson was selected to the All-Star team 12 times and to the All-NBA team 10 times. He also won three MVP titles and played a key role in leading the Lakers to five NBA championships in the 1980s.