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Earvin “Magic” Johnson dominated the court as one of America’s best basketball players for more than a decade, earning three NBA MVP awards. He retired from the league in 1991 and has since then built up a business empire, which includes real estate holdings, several coffee shop franchises, and movie theaters.
See the fact file below for more information on the Earvin “Magic” Johnson or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Earvin “Magic” Johnson worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life and Career
- Magic was born Earvin Johnson, Jr. on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan to a large family with nine siblings.
- Both of his parents worked to support the family – his father, Earvin Sr., for the General Motors plant, and his mother, Christine, as a school custodian.
- Growing up, Earvin Jr. also worked several jobs to help his parents, but he developed a deeper passion for playing basketball, and would start practice shooting as early as 7:30 a.m. every day.
- His basketball career began in 1973 at Everett High School, where he earned his famous moniker, “Magic” after Lansing State Journal sports writer Fred Stabley witnessed him score 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists in a single game during his sophomore year.
- Magic continued his basketball journey in college and played for the Michigan State University from 1977-1979. Standing at 6’9” tall, he made an impressive point guard. He earned praises during his debut year for helping his team, the Spartans, win the Big Ten Conference title of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
- In his sophomore year, Magic helped Michigan State win the national college basketball championship by defeating the Indiana State University Sycamores, led by future Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, scoring 24 points and winning Most Valuable Player (MVP).
- Magic Johnson decided to go professional after his two year stint with the Spartans and was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.
- He proved himself in his first season with the team, averaging 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game, and becoming the first rookie to start in an NBA All-Star game.
- He also became the youngest player ever to be named playoff MVP as the Lakers went on to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA championship.
- With his prominence and build, Magic became the first big man to shine as a point guard, a position usually taken by smaller players, eventually gaining attention in the league.
- During the 1981-82 NBA season, Lakers head coach, Paul Westhead, designed an offensive play which featured the team’s center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This change upset Johnson, who later asked to be traded.
- After Westhead was replaced by Pat Riley, Johnson regained the spotlight and became one of the league’s best all-around players. In his first season with Riley, the Lakers won another championship, with Johnson again awarded as playoff MVP.
- In 1985, Magic Johnson and the Lakers continued to be victorious after winning their third NBA title, defeating Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, and winning the 1987 and 1988 championships.
- In his 12-year stint with the Lakers, the team won five championships. Johnson was crowned playoff MVP three times, a 12-time All-Star, and 1990 All-Star game MVP. In the 874 games he played, he averaged 19.7 points per game, pulled down 6,376 rebounds, and had 1,698 steals.
- During the 1990-91 season, he broke Oscar Robertson’s assist record, finishing the season with a total of 9,921 assists.
- In October 1996, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
- In November 1991, Johnson withdrew from the Los Angeles Lakers after finding out that he had Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). He believed he acquired the disease through unprotected sexual activity.
- Johnson found it difficult to accept the diagnosis at the time, as his wife Cookie was pregnant with their first child. Both his wife and son, Earvin III, turned out to not have HIV.
- At the time, the public thought the virus mostly affected homosexuals or intravenous drug users. Fear and confusion were also rampant regarding how the disease could be transmitted.
- Magic Johnson’s decision to expose his medical condition helped raise awareness about the disease. He later established the Magic Johnson Foundation to support HIV/AIDS research efforts and awareness programs that same year. In 1992, he wrote the campaign What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS.
- Undeterred, Magic Johnson returned to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star game, scoring 25 points and being named All-Star MVP. That summer, he went to play in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain as a member of the United States basketball “Dream Team” that won the gold medal, along with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
- He hoped to make a comeback and announced his return shortly before the 1992 season. However, after 5 pre-season games, he announced his retirement again, saying he wanted to stay healthy for his family.
- Johnson remained active in the American basketball scene, acquiring an ownership share in the Los Angeles Lakers and forming a team that played games around the world to benefit charities.
- He later became vice president of the Lakers franchise and took over as head coach by the end of the 1992-93 season. In early 1996, Magic returned to play again for the Lakers, but announced his retirement by May – this time for good.
- Magic Johnson explored other options outside basketball and enjoyed all-star success as a businessman. He became conscious to his hard earned money early in his career, after witnessing fellow Laker Abdul-Jabbar lose millions to bad business advisers.
- Like other superstar athletes, Johnson appeared in commercials, gave speeches, and hosted a television talk shows that he got paid huge amounts for.
- Magic Johnson became a powerful force in business and founded Magic Johnson Enterprises, which majorly invested in large-scale property development. Among his achievements were Starbucks coffee franchises, movie theaters, and shopping centers in inner-city areas where no one else wanted to invest.
- In June 1995, Johnson opened the twelve-screen Magic Theaters in a mostly black area of Los Angeles. In 1997, he opened another cinema complex in Atlanta, Georgia. Magic Movie Houses continued to be constructed in other cities including Brooklyn, New York, where the historic Loews Kings Theater was restored for $30 million.
- In 2008, he shared his secrets to success with his book, 32 Ways to be a Champion in Business.
- He also collaborated with Larry Bird in 2009 to write When the Game Was Ours, a book which tackled their rivalry, experiences on the court, and the sport they are passionate about. That same year, Magic Johnson was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Earvin “Magic” Johnson across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Earvin “Magic” Johnson worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Earvin “Magic” Johnson who dominated the court as one of America’s best basketball players for more than a decade.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Fast Facts
- Magic’s Memory Lane
- Coloring Magic
- Greatest Lakers
- Homecourt Heroes
- First Five
- Everything He Does is MAGIC
- Cheering for Magic
- Be Like Magic
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