“White America Was Falling in Love with Magic Johnson”: 7x NBA All-Star on How Lakers Changed USA

Before Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan came into the NBA and became the face of the league, there was one person who saved the NBA from going out of business. That was Magic Johnson. Magic came into the NBA when it needed him the most, and he changed the course of history forever. And seven-time All-Star Grant Hill once explained how the Los Angeles Lakers Legend not only changed the game of basketball but also marked a cultural shift in the United States of America.

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson came into the NBA in the 1979 NBA draft, a time when the Popularity of the league was dwindling. He was drafted number one overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that was loaded with stars but had not won a title since Wilt Chamberlain left the franchise.

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The team was also under new ownership under Jerry Buss and he was yet to taste success. They did manage to get another star in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but the Lakers were yet to win anything under him. That was going to change after Magic Johnson came in and started the Showtime era.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers changed the perception of the NBA

Magic and the Lakers started the showtime era in the 80s and dominated the decade. The young Phenom was listed at 6-foot-9 and he was a Crafty guard at that height. In all its years, the NBA has not seen a point guard like that. Along with that, he was highly marketable. He was a flashy, flamboyant, and lovable character.

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NBA Legend and seven-time All-Star Grant Hill once explained what Magic meant to the United States at that time. He was part of the new documentary on Johnson, “They Call Me Magic.” On the show, they proclaimed, “Not only did Black America, not only the young black kids, black teenagers, fall in love with Magic Johnson, but White America was falling in love with Magic Johnson. Falling in love and looking up to and feeling inspired by a Black male, was almost unheard of.”

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Magic was a transcendental player and his rivalry with Larry Bird transformed the NBA in the 80s. Many say that Magic saved the NBA from going out of business. They made the league popular again, even in areas where it was not well received at one point.

And he made the cultural shift necessary for Michael Jordan to flourish in the league and take it to the next level.

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