In honor of NBA All Star weekend, we acknowledge one Mr. Magic Johnson. As a Los Angeles Laker, he brought Showtime to the Forum, but it is his role as activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur since his retirement that make the Magic Man a Game Changer.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s prowess on the basketball court is well-known. In his two years at Michigan State University, the Spartans made it to the NCAA tournament twice. In what would be his final season, Magic led MSU past Larry Bird and Indiana State to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship in 1979. After being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers that same year, Magic Johnson joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to lead the team to the NBA Finals versus the Philadelphia 76ers. When Abdul-Jabbar was injured and unable to play game 6, Magic started at center and put on one of the greatest performances of all time with a stat line of 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. He played guard, forward, and center at different times throughout the game. He went on to become the first rookie to win NBA Finals MVP, and became one of only four players to win a NCAA and NBA title in consecutive years. The rest of the 80′s were the days of Showtime, led by Magic’s uncanny ability to make the game look easy. The Lakers went on to win 3 more championships in the decade with Magic at the forefront of all of them. In 1991 he unexpectedly announced his retirement after revealing he had contracted the HIV virus. Though he came back briefly in 92 and again in 94, he was never quite the same. He finally hung up his sneaks after losing to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.
Magic tried his hand at coaching briefly, but realized the business side was more for him. He was for years a shareholder in the Los Angeles Lakers organization, and recently, as part of an ownership group, became an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. He has taken an interest in improving African-American communities around the country through community involvement and business opportunities. After revealing he had contracted HIV, Magic started working as an activist for HIV/AIDS awareness especially in the Black community. He wanted to make sure people understood that HIV/AIDS infected people outside the homosexual white males many believed it did in the 80′s and early 90′s. He also worked to end discrimination of those living with HIV/AIDS.
As an entrepreneur, activist, media personality, and athlete, Magic Johnson has shattered stereotypes on every level, making him a Game Changer.