ABC/ESPN NBA Analyst
Earvin “Magic” Johnson – whose dazzling play, enthusiasm and smile in a historic NCAA final and later as the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers of the NBA made him one of America’s most famous and popular athletes – is an NBA studio analyst for ABC and ESPN, where he regularly appears on KIA NBA Countdown. He joined ESPN in 2010, having been a studio analyst for TNT from 2001-2008 and for NBC.
Before being chosen as the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, as a sophomore Johnson helped lead Michigan State University to the college championship in a memorable final against Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad. The game remains the highest-rated NCAA men’s championship game. The two legends continued their rivalry at the professional level as Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Boston Celtics battled for league supremacy throughout the 1980s.
Johnson, who was a three-time NBA MVP and five-time NBA champion, revolutionized the point guard position in his 13 professional seasons. Playing alongside NBA stars such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Jamal Wilkes, at 6’9” his creative playmaking and passing thrilled fans. In a game that defined his versatility, as a rookie Johnson filled in at center for a sidelined Abdul-Jabbar in Game Six of the NBA Finals. With the Lakers leading 3-2, his 42 points and 15 rebounds helped clinch the title against Philadelphia.
Johnson made international headlines in November 1991 when he suddenly retired from basketball after testing positive for the HIV virus. In the years since, Johnson has become an advocate for research into HIV and AIDS and support for those infected.
Johnson did play once later in the 1991-92 season. He was voted to the NBA All-Star team by the fans, and despite controversy from fans and players alike, did play and even was named MVP. That summer, he was a member of the gold medal-winning “Dream Team” for the United States at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Johnson coached the Lakers for the final 16 games of the 1993-94 season but left the position to purchase a five percent share in the team. In 1996, after a four-and-one-half year layoff, Johnson returned to the Lakers for 32 games. Johnson was selected to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team in 1997 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Following his retirement, Johnson established himself as a successful businessman with a portfolio that has included AMC Magic Johnson movie theatres, more than100 Starbucks locations, a range of Burger King franchises and 24 Hour Fitness Magic Sport centers.