Editor’s Observe: As a part of a brand new collection for his podcast, “What’s Wright with Nick Wright,” FOX Sports activities commentator Nick Wright is rating the 50 best NBA players of the final 50 years. The countdown continues immediately with participant No. four, Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson’s profession highlights:
- Three-time Finals MVP
- Three-time league MVP
- 12-time All-Star
- 9-time first-team All-NBA, one-time second group
- 4-time assists chief
- Two-time steals chief
- 1980 All-Rookie group
- Highest profession assists common
A coin toss, because it did with No. 1 general picks for about 20 years, decided the destiny of rookie Earvin Johnson. The fortuitous flip meant he was headed to the Lakers to play alongside the most effective participant in basketball.
“Once you return and watch these video games, he’s simply taking part in the game in another way than anybody ever had as much as that time and, actually, than anybody ever has since,” Wright mentioned.
Magic Johnson is No. four. on Nick Wright’s High 50 NBA Gamers of the Final 50 Years
With dazzling passing abilities and playmaking capability, Magic Johnson made an instantaneous influence for the Los Angeles Lakers. He would go on to win 5 NBA Championships whereas racking up three NBA Finals MVPs and three regular-season MVPs all through his profession.
That explains the distinctive manufacturing and successful. All Magic did, in reality, was win. The 6-foot-9 unicorn by no means went multiple yr with out making the Finals and owns the best mixed successful share within the common season and postseason of any participant (72.Eight%).
“There are too many insane video games to listing all of them,” Wright mentioned.
Some merely should be. A 20-year-old Johnson opened his postseason profession with consecutive triple-doubles. He closed the championship run by leaping middle rather than an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and posting 42 factors, 15 rebounds and 7 assists at Philadelphia. The enduring Recreation 6 efficiency earned him a controversial Finals MVP choice over Kareem, although there was nothing divisive about Magic averaging 22-11-9 with three steals within the collection.
Johnson was an instantaneous famous person. He’d turn into a licensed legend inside two years, averaging roughly a triple-double for the 1981-82 season (18.6/9.6/9.5) earlier than successful a second Finals MVP with a triple-double within the clinching sport in opposition to Julius Erving‘s 76ers.
“It’s a little irritating to me after I hear individuals arguing, is Steph [Curry] the best level guard ever? No,” Wright mentioned. “The dialog for best level guard ever begins at No. 2 as a result of Magic Johnson transcended the rankings. He’s with out query the best level guard of all time.”
At this level, he wasn’t even often taking part in level guard but. As Abdul-Jabbar began to steadily decline, Johnson stuffed in wherever wanted. He averaged 18-9-13 within the 1983 playoffs, which led to a Finals loss, a sweep by Moses Malone and the superior Sixers.
Magic moved to level guard for good the next season and averaged a career-high 13.1 assists per sport. He’d information L.A. again to the Finals and a coveted matchup with the rival Boston Celtics. Johnson and Larry Bird took turns imposing their will earlier than the Lakers chief faltered over the ultimate video games as Boston prevailed. Magic’s early success had set such excessive expectations, the smallest of slumps prompted individuals to name him “Tragic.”
What a mistake.
Steph Curry just isn’t ranked No. 2 all time above LeBron, Magic or Kareem
Nick Wright reacts to Bobby Marks’ current feedback suggesting that Golden State Warriors famous person Steph Curry must be ranked second all time, even above LeBron James. Nick explains why this isn’t solely incorrect, however disrespectful to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Johnson responded by going to a different gear within the 1985 playoffs, because the Lakers rolled by way of the Western Convention for a fourth straight Finals look. In an exciting rematch with the Celtics, Magic went for 26 and 17 in Recreation 5 to present L.A. a Three-2 lead. He averaged a Finals-record 14 assists within the six-game collection win – Johnson owns the six greatest help charges within the title spherical – fantastically orchestrating what can be the height of the “Showtime” Lakers. Magic registered an absurd 15.2 assists for the postseason.
The Lakers and Celtics have been on observe for a trilogy till Houston shocked L.A. within the convention finals. Johnson put up 22-Eight-16 per sport within the collection, solely to see Hakeem Olajuwon decisively outduel a 38-year-old Abdul-Jabbar.
Magic took it upon himself to shoot extra the next season and scored a career-high 23.9 factors whereas nonetheless main the league with 12.2 assists. That earned him his first league MVP. The Lakers went 11-1 within the West bracket earlier than once more taking up the defending-champion Celtics within the Finals. Johnson was in full management by way of three video games (28-Eight-14). His Recreation four exploits are timeless. After rallying the Lakers again from a 16-point deficit within the second half, Magic took Kevin McHale off the dribble and sunk a junior sky hook over Boston’s huge three with two seconds remaining for a one-point lead. L.A. received the championship rubber match two video games later, with Johnson claiming a 3rd Finals MVP after averaging 26-Eight-13.
In 1988, the Detroit Pistons ended the Celtics’ reign within the East and have been on the verge of taking out the Lakers. However Johnson went for 22 and 19 in Recreation 6, as L.A. narrowly overcame a heroic efficiency from Isiah Thomas. James Worthy’s historic Recreation 7 (36-16-10) netted him MVP honors, though Magic had been markedly higher all through the collection (21-6-13 on 55% taking pictures).
“This could have been Magic’s MVP,” Wright mentioned. “They gave it to Worthy as a result of Worthy had the unbelievable Recreation 7.”
Johnson averaged 23-Eight-13 en path to successful his second league MVP in 1989. He steered the Lakers to an 11-Zero mark forward of a Finals rematch with Detroit. Magic went down with a hamstring damage in Recreation 2, nonetheless, and L.A. was swept.
Regardless of Kareem’s retirement, the Lakers received six extra video games within the following common season (63 in all) and Johnson repeated as MVP. Their streak of Finals appearances would finish, nonetheless, within the second-round upset to the Suns. Magic, it must be famous, scored 43 factors on 58% taking pictures in every of the collection’ final two video games.
Though 1990 marked the top of the Pat Riley period in L.A., Johnson bought the Lakers again to the Finals only one season later. His triple-double in Recreation 1 paced a two-point win over the Bulls. He’d play incredible all through the five-game collection (19-Eight-12), however the battle belonged to Michael Jordan.
5 months later, Johnson shockingly revealed he’d been identified with HIV. After 12 peerless seasons, he retired at 32. However not earlier than he received 5 titles, reached 9 Finals and set innumerable (and maybe untouchable) NBA marks, together with help averages of 11.2 within the common season and 12.Three within the playoffs. He dished out 20 assists in 10 playoff video games. There are 10 different such outputs in league historical past. No person tops Magic’s 30 postseason triple-doubles. For his profession, he scored 19.5 factors and grabbed 7.2 rebounds whereas taking pictures 52.Zero%.
Johnson completed prime three in MVP voting a file 9 consecutive years.
“I believe Magic is actually positionless, may dominate at any spot, and on this period the place you don’t should defend dominant facilities, could possibly be the final word small-ball cheat code,” Wright mentioned. “The one query about Magic is, if not for HIV, would he be thought of the GOAT?”
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