Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. (born August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan) is a 6' 8" former American professional basketball star who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s and early 1990s. Playing point guard, he led the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988), as well as four other NBA Finals appearances. He also led Michigan State University to the NCAA title in 1979 against arch-rival Larry Bird's Indiana State University. Johnson is also the only NBA rookie to win the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award (1980). He is one of only four players to win NCAA and NBA championships in consecutive years.
Johnson earned the nickname "Magic" in high school, both for his flamboyant passing style and winning ways. While not known as an exceptional scorer, Magic excelled in all other facets of the game. In different periods of his career, he led the league in assists and steals. He led the Lakers in scoring three times (1987, 1989, 1990) and in rebounding twice (1982, 1983). His unselfish playmaking and dazzling no-look passes on the fast break ushered in the "Showtime" era of Laker basketball, which dominated the eighties. Although he and Bird eventually became the best of friends off the court, they revived the heated Lakers-Celtics rivalry, and drew millions of new fans to the NBA.
Perhaps the greatest game of Johnson's career came on May 16, 1980 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Still in his rookie season, Magic started the game at center (filling in for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and eventually played every position on the floor in an absolutely dominating performance (in Philadelphia, nonetheless). Scoring a game-high 42 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds, he led the Lakers to the NBA crown, stunning Julius Erving, the Philadelphia 76ers, and a national television audience who came to understand the moniker "Magic". Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to championships in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988.
Outside of basketball, Johnson is probably most famous for his November 7, 1991 public announcement that he had contracted the HIV virus and would be immediately retiring from basketball. The public announcement by a prominent and popular athlete shocked the nation into awareness about the AIDS epidemic and helped put the virus into the public eye.
Johnson and a team of ghost writers produced a book which was published by Random House in 1992. All profits from the book were donated to the Magic Johnson Foundation for the prevention, education, research, and care in the battle against AIDS.
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 is operated as a separate entity. More recently, his interests have expanded from a very short lived 1998 talk show "The Magic Hour", to ownership of several Starbucks franchises, again primarily in urban locations. It is said that Johnson has earned more money from post-basketball ventures than from his playing days and endorsement deals.
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