Magic Johnson: who is former NBA player Earvin Johnson, when did he join LA Lakers, and does he have HIV

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Quincy Isaiah will play Lakers legend Magic Johnson in the new sports docudrama series

New documentary series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty charts the history of one of the most well-known basketball teams in the world.

The Los Angeles Lakers, tied with Boston Celtics for the most NBA championship wins at 17, have had many notable players on the court through the years.

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Shaquille O’Neal played for the team from 1996-2004, Kobe Bryant, who died tragically in 2020, was on the squad for two decades, and then there was Magic Johnson.

Who is Magic Johnson?

Magic Johnson played as point guard for the LA LakersMagic Johnson played as point guard for the LA Lakers
Magic Johnson played as point guard for the LA Lakers | Getty Images

Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Michigan in 1959 into an athletic family, his father and grandmother both having played basketball growing up.

Earvin was given the more mystical moniker ‘Magic’ in high school when he scored a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists.

By the time that Johnson graduated, he was considered to be the greatest basketball player to have ever come from Michigan.

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At 6 ft 9 in, it’s not surprising that he had game, but few could have predicted the epic career he would go on to have.

When did Magic Johnson join the LA Lakers?

Johnson joined the Lakers in 1979, playing alongside the 7 ft 2 in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom he idolised.

Johnson played as a point guard - responsible for controlling the position of the ball and ensuring it reaches the player who is best placed to score - and stayed in this role for his entire career/

That season, Johnson helped the Laker to a championship victory and won the NBA Finals MVP award - the first rookie to have done so.

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Johnson continued to play for the Lakers for another 11 seasons, becoming one of the most respected players in the game.

Does Magic Johnson have HIV?

In a physical before the 1991-92 season, Johnson discovered that he was HIV positive, and decided to retire from the game immediately.

By the early 1990s, drug treatments were available for HIV, but misunderstanding and prejudice about those with the virus was common.

Johnson considered making a comeback in the 1992-93 season but faced opposition from other prominent players due to his diagnosis.

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Johnson launched a comeback to the Lakers as a coach in 1994, starting well with the team winning five out of their first six games, but ultimately finishing with a five wins to 11 losses.

When did Magic Johnson retire?

Johnson returned to the Lakers as a player in the 1995-96 season, four years after his initial retirement

After losing to the Houston Rockets in the championship play-offs, Johnson announced that he would be retiring permanently.

Magic Johnson left a huge legacy on the game when he retired and was voted as one of the 50 greatest players of all time by the NBA in 1996.

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Johnson pulls down a rebound during a game in the 1988-89 seasonJohnson pulls down a rebound during a game in the 1988-89 season
Johnson pulls down a rebound during a game in the 1988-89 season | Getty Images

How can I watch Winning Time on TV?

The first episode of the docudrama series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, will air in the UK on Sky Atlantic and Now TV on 28 March, and new episodes will be released weekly.

The series looks at the Lakers’ “showtime era” which was distinctive for its fast paced freewheeling style.

Episodes will be released weekly.

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