Welcome back to the "Best Ever" series as this time, i'll present a case for another of the great players in the league's history as the finest of them all.
Earvin Johnson was truly "Magic", because there hadn't been a 6'9 player before who could handle the ball, see the court and involve his team mates.
He was really unique. Magic revolutionized the game of basketball while dominating his competition, adding flare to the game and being on top of them all.
Without further ado, here is my case why i think he was arguably the greatest player of all time.
Magic Johnson was arguably the greatest ball distributor in the NBA History. He turned passing into an art form, and made it look so easy out there.
His court vision was unmatched, and he saw the court in a way like no one else. He could spot the open man from anywhere and could lead anyone for the easy basket.
Earvin's ability to run the fast brake was second to none. Once when started running it and saw the situation, he'd just display his passing skills to near excellence and find someone for the finish.
His flare was amazing. As the leader of the "Showtime" LA, he was certainly spectacular as he dished crazy, fancy dimes yet most of them were right on target.
Johnson was at his best when he created a turn over, started the brake, saw the situation rightfully, the defense's mistake and just pass it to the open man for the two points.
Then, there are the stats to back him up. He's the all time leader in career assists per game, playoffs and finals leader in both total and average too.
However, his abilities go beyond statistics though. It's evident by Worthy and Kareem in a quote in which say, that when he throw the ball to you, he'd allow you to do your own magic too.
Magic Johnson established himself as arguably the most complete player in the NBA History, who was capable to do everything on the court in order to win.
He was the best ball distributor the game of basketball had ever seen. With an unmatched court vision, unselfishness, fakes and accurate passes, he was ahead of everyone else by comfortable margin.
Magic was a remarkable offensive player in general. He could also score pretty well and most of all efficiently too. He also had a terrific post up game and took advantage of his abilities.
Rebounding was not a problem for Johnson, as he was arguably the finest rebounder that ever played guard. He elevated that ability on a whole level when it mattered most.
Defensively, he was known as a crafty and excellent team defender. He played nicely at the lanes and in team defense. He won two steal titles. He had problems with smaller and quicker guards, but he was good overall.
He's the league's all time leader in assists per game during regular, post season and finals too. He also leads in total dimes in both playoffs and finals too.
Magic's a triple double machine, who ranks second on the all time list in most triple doubles but leads all in post season. His all-around game is best illustrated by them.
Here are some other notable achievements
-He recorded 125 triple doubles throughout his career, which rank second on the all time list
-His total of 30 triple doubles is ranked first in the playoffs history
-One of the 5 players ever to record a triple double series in the playoffs
-One of the 3 players ever to record triple double in multiple playoff series
-One of two players in NBA history to average a triple-double in a playoff series of at least six games
-Ranks first on the all time list in career assists per game
-Ranks first on the playoffs all time list in total assists
-Ranks first on the playoffs all time list in assists per game
-Ranks second on the playoffs all time list in offensive win shares
-Ranks third on the playoffs all time list in win shares
-Ranks third on the playoffs all time list in assist percentage
-Ranks fourth on the playoffs all time list in win shares per 48 minutes
-Ranks fourth on the all time list in career assists
-Ranks fourth on the all time list in career offensive rating
-Ranks fourth on the all time list in career MVP shares
-Ranks eight on the all time list in career true shooting percent
-Ranks eight on the all time list in career win shares per 48 minutes
-Ranks ninth on the playoffs all time list in career defensive rebounds
-Ranks 12th on the playoffs all time list in total points
-Ranks 13th on the all time list in career player efficiency
-Ranks 16th on the playoffs all time list in defensive win shares
-Ranks 17th on the all time list in career steals per game
-Ranks 17th on the all time list in career offensive win share
-Ranks 17th on the playoffs all time list in player efficiency
-Ranks 17th on the all time list in career steals
-Ranks 18th on the playoffs all time list in rebounds (first for all guards)
-Ranks 22nd on the all time list in career win shares
-Ranks 35th on the all time list in career steals percentage
Career Stats (Regular season/Playoffs)
-17,707 points (19,5)-------------------------------------------3,701 points (19,5)
-10,141 assists (11,2)------------------------------------------2,346 assists (12,3)
-6,559 assists (7.2)----------------------------------------------1,465 rebounds (7.7)
3.Making Team Mates Better
When it comes to a player's certain game pulling the maximum out of the team mates and making them better on the court, no one was arguably better than Magic Johnson.
With his amazing court vision, ability to lead his team mates for easy points. unselfishness, team oriented mentality and will to win, he elevated their play and used them efficiently.
Magic was willing to let other guys shine too, not play for stats. It's his most underrated advantage of them all, but it was a remarkable one.
Magic Johnson always played pretty well when it mattered most. In the NBA Finals, where he truly dominated, often leading his team to the title and earning the Finals MVP en route as well.
He elevated himself in the clutch and the numbers show it.
---Regular Season:19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, 52.0% FG,
-------Post Season:19.5 points, 12.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 50.6% FG,
--------------Finals:19.7 points, 11.4 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 51.8% FG,
-----Game Sevens:20.5 points, 14.0 assists, 6.7 rebounds, N/A FG,
Johnson consistently played better in the important and close series. His other individual Finals truly stand out as well, with numerous remarkable performances.
His most famous performance is playing at center instead of injured Kareem in Game Six of 1980 Finals as a rookie. He recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists to lead LA to a title en route to a Finals MVP.
So, his case for the best clutch performer is respectable.
With a height and body of a power forward, skill set of a forward, court vision of a floor general, Magic Johnson was the game's most versatile player of all time.
He was the only guy who was capable to play all five positions on the court in high level. He could fill any role that was required from him in order to win.
Magic demonstrated that numerous times. For example, early in his career, he played at shooting guard where he displayed his skills so well and averaged 18.5 points, 9.6 assists and 9.5 rebounds in 81-82.
That's right. It's the closest anyone has ever got to averaging a triple double in a full season since Oscar Robertson, which is a fantastic feat.
Johnson famously switched at center in the sixth game of the 1980 Finals to replace injured Kareem as a rookie. He recorded 42 points, 15 boards and 7 dimes in order to win the title en route to a Finals MVP.
His versatility was unmatched.
The types of legendary players who made everyone around him much better than what they were are rares. Magic Johnson belonged in that tier.
He was arguably the greatest team superstar in the NBA History. Few's playing style could impact on their respectable teams' win like Magic consistently did.
His goal was to win, and he truly succeed. Johnson never played for individual statistics, instead he excelled at pulling the finest out of the guys around him.
Like his former team mates Kareem and Worthy said, before he passed the dime to you, he let you do your own "magic" and lead you for the easy points.
He was a true floor general, whose unselfishness and willingness made him a very versatile, as he filled in different roles successfully and played productively.
Earvin did all of the little things and was one of the most dominant players of any time, despite not scoring that much. And he succeed in his goals.
With five championships and three Finals MVP, he was a winner and arguably the top team superstar ever.
Regardless what role he was filling in on the court, Earvin "Magic" Johnson made an impact and established himself as one of the most dominant players in NBA History.
He was quite possibly the most dominant player without including scoring, because he'd simply do everything on the court in a way like few could despite not scoring tons of points.
Yet all of that, without playing in a team system and being the key contributor of his teams. Magic was a brilliant floor general, whose court vision and unselfishness allowed him to crack some nice numbers.
Then, again he was also smart. He scored well, because he knew to use his size over his opponents, was great on the boards, played well defensively in team concept and filled out the stat sheet nicely.
His career numbers say it all, and they increase in both playoffs and finals. Johnson also brought phenomenal versatility, as he filled out all the required roles of him pretty well.
It's safe to say, that Magic was one of the most dominant players ever.
A word that will be always tied to the legacy of Earvin Johnson, is "flashy". Why? Because nobody defined the term itself in the way he did and he was just really amazing player.
He brought such a nice flare to the game, which hasn't been matched by anyone ever. As the leader of the "Showtime" Lakers, he was a highlight machine who dazzled crowds and dominated his opponents in style.
Hence, he's not called Magic for nothing. He popularized the no look passes, and his ability to run the fast brake was second to none. He would find the open man for the easy basket, yet throw a nice dime in the process.
Johnson's flashiness was truly out of the ordinary.
Magic Johnson like any other legend, has also a well fill out resume.
- 5× NBA Champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987–1988)
- 3× NBA Most Valuable Player (1987, 1989–1990)
- 12× NBA All-Star (1980, 1982–1992)
- 3× NBA Finals MVP (1980, 1982, 1987)
- 9× All-NBA First Team (1983–1991)
- All-NBA Second Team (1982)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1980)
- 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (1990, 1992)
- NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
- NCAA Champion (1979)
- #32 Retired by Los Angeles Lakers
10.Ability To Play In Any Era
Magic Johnson was a phenomenal player who could really do it all on the court and had all the needed tools to excel. In other words, his game would translate pretty well in any era.
There are numerous reasons for that. First of all, from a physical standpoint, he was considered as a big "guard", was athletic and had a nice movement for a man of his size.
Then, there's the all-around game. Magic was arguably the most complete player ever. He was a walking triple double machine, who had terrific numbers to back him up and could dominate with ease.
Johnson was also a very versatile player, who could play all positions on the court efficiently and well.
His offensive production was on pair with the finest of all time, as his passing skills were beyond amazing and was a great scorer when it was needed like in the playoffs.
Although defense is considered as his biggest weakness, still, he played well defensively within a team concept and was a nice threat on the passing lanes. He did lead the league twice in steals.
So, in general, Magic Johnson's great play would translate nicely in any era.
"Magic is head-and-shoulders above everybody else. I've never seen [anybody] as good as him." ------ Larry Bird once observed in the Chicago Sun-Times.
"There have been times when he has thrown passes and I wasn't sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores, and I run back up the floor convinced that he must've thrown it through somebody."-------Michael Cooper on Magic's fast brakes
"You know, Magic when those eyes got like that, he already figured out what to do, it's over"---------James Worthy, former team mate
"There will be never another 6'9 point guard who smiles at you while he humiliates you"-------James Worthy