Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson
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Earvin “Magic” Johnson
Film: South side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Athlete
Born Aug. 14, 1959 in Lansing, MI

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, one of the greatest basketball players in history, is today a prominent business and civic leader in Los Angeles.

His Beverly Hills-based Magic Johnson Enterprises operates AMC Magic Johnson Theatres, more than 100 Starbucks Coffee outlets in the U.S., more than three dozen Burger King restaurants in the Southeast and more than a dozen 24-Hour Fitness/Magic Johnson Sport health clubs.

Many of these ventures were developed in long-ignored urban neighborhoods. He also has a company involved in lending money to mid-size businesses. And he owns a nearly 5% share of the Lakers.

He earned his nickname during a standout high-school career at Everett High School in East Lansing, Mich. Heavily recruited by the nation's college basketball superpowers, Johnson instead chose Michigan State so he could play close to home.

The Spartans won the NCAA championship in Johnson's second year in what was then the most-watched college basketball game in history, a 75-69 win over Indiana State, led by archrival Larry Bird. The two would become formidable foes, and fast friends, in the NBA.

Johnson turned pro after his sophomore season, becoming the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft. In his rookie season, he led the Lakers to the NBA championship, playing all five positions in beating the Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers in six games.

Johnson was the captain and charismatic leader of the Lakers' high-scoring, fast-paced offense in the 1980s known as Showtime. Three times that decade Johnson and the Lakers faced Bird and the Celtics in the NBA finals, beating them twice.

In 1991, in an emotional televised news conference that shocked the world, Johnson acknowledged that he had contracted the HIV virus and was retiring immediately from basketball. He married his longtime girlfriend, launched his business career, and today is healthy, the virus largely dormant inside him.

Johnson finished his storied NBA career with five championships in nine tries; three most valuable player awards; 12 All Star game appearances; 17,707 points; 6,559 rebounds; and 10,141 assists, a franchise record. He was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, and in 1992 won a gold medal as part of the U.S. Olympic team at the Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2002.

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