Lakers Nation Look Back: Top 5 Magic Johnson Moments

5. 1979 NCAA Championship Game 

The NCAA title game in 1979 was the introduction to what we all knew as the legendary Magic-Bird rivalry. In this matchup Magic would get the best of Larry Bird, leading the Michigan State Spartans to a 75-64 victory over the undefeated Indiana State Sycamores. Magic was named the Most Outstanding Player after scoring 24 points, and grabbing seven rebounds.

4. Magic Johnson’s First NBA Game w/ Kareem Bear Hug

In Magic’s debut on the national stage, the Lakers were in a close matchup against the Clippers that would be decided on the final possession. So to win the game the Lakers gave the ball to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he finished the Clippers off with his legendary sky hook. Being a rookie at the time, Magic was so excited to win that he embraced Kareem with an emphatic hug, regardless if it was the first game of the season. A moment like this would show the true essence of Magic, and let everyone know how passionate he was about winning at the highest level.

3. 1992 All Star Game Performance

After taking a leave of absence from the game of basketball for some time (he was diagnosed with the HIV virus), Magic made a return to the big stage when he was voted as a starter in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. A moment like this revealed the joy that Magic Johnson brought to the game of basketball. He would win game MVP and get one more chance to go head-to-head with some of his long time rivals in Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.

2. Game 6 Of the 1980 NBA Finals

In the 1980 NBA Finals, a 20-year-old rookie by the name of Magic Johnson established his place in NBA history by way of his Game 6 performance. With the six-time NBA MVP (and Lakers captain) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out with a severe ankle sprain, Magic Johnson took it upon his shoulders to do whatever he could to lead his team to an NBA title. The rookie started in place for Kareem at the center position, and delivered one of the best performances that has been seen in the NBA Finals — 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists.

1. Magic’s Baby Hook Shot in the 1987 NBA Finals

In Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals, Magic Johnson converted one of the most difficult shots in NBA history. With the opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Boston Celtics, the Lakers gave the ball to their star player on the final possession of the game. Trailing by one point, Magic forced Kevin McHale to switch on to him after receiving a screen from Kareem. And, rather than dishing the ball inside to Kareem who had the advantage with a smaller defender, Magic took matters into his own hands, went inside the paint and shot a remarkable hook shot over Celtics center Robert Parish. The shot is forever known as the “junior sky hook,” and will often be remembered as the greatest moment in the basketball career of Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

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