Earvin 'Magic' Johnson was born August 14, 1959.
In a 13-season NBA career, the dominant point guard set an all-time record with 11.2 assists per game, leading the "Showtime" Lakers to five NBA titles.
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Johnson chose to stay home to play college ball, committing to Michigan State University in 1977. In his sophomore season, his Spartan team faced Larry Bird's undefeated Indiana State squad in the 1979 NCAA Championship game, foreshadowing the two stars' future pro rivalry. Johnson scored 24 points, leading MSU to a 75-64 win.
After being chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the 1979 Final Four, Johnson was chosen first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in that year's NBA Draft, a team already returning stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes.
Johnson immediately gained a starting role and thrived, leading the Lakers to a 60-22 record before becoming the first rookie in league history to win the NBA Finals MVP award after a 4-2 series win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
This performance in Game 6, in which Abdul-Jabbar was out due to an ankle
injury while Johnson tallied 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, was called "the best single-game performance in Finals history" by NBA.com:
Although the 6-foot-9 point guard missed much of 1980-81 due to knee problems, he returned to form in the following years, winning his second Finals MVP in 1982 after another series win over the 76ers.
Between 1982-83 and 1986-87, Johnson led the league in assists per game four times, joining Abdul-Jabbar and 1982 draft pick James Worthy to form the "Showtime" Lakers that rivaled Bird's Celtics for league supremacy.
The Lakers and Celtics met in the NBA Finals in three out of those five seasons, with Los Angeles winning two of them and Johnson winning his third Finals MVP in 1987.
Nearing the start of the 1991-92 season, however, Johnson shook the basketball world with an abrupt retirement, announcing to the country that he had tested positive for HIV during the offseason. Despite missing that entire season, Johnson still played in the 1992 NBA All-Star game (winning MVP honors) and for the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team," although his NBA career wouldn't resume besides a brief comeback in 1995-96.
Since retiring, Johnson has become known for his philanthropy, founding the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV in 1991. He also has had tremendous success in business with Magic Johnson Enterprises, which currently owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and is expected to co-own a future L.A.-based MLS team.
Johnson finished his 13-year career with five NBA titles, three Finals MVPs, and three regular season MVPs (1987, 1989, 1990). He was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, and was named the best point guard in history by ESPN in 2007.