Essay on Magic Johnson

This essay has a total of 2861 words and 11 pages.

Magic Johnson


The L.A. Lakers in the 1980's were a basketball powerhouse with household names such as
James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kurt Rambis who would doubt it. They had class and
displayed it on the court. Kareem could pull up for his patented sky hook, they could dish
to Worthy for the dunk and Rambis could pull down a rebound, but without a certain Magic
there would be no showtime in L.A. A certain young player who had it all, a flashy smile
and a great no look pass. That certain player was a true point guard, Earvin Johnson Jr.
There are five magic parts to Earvin Johnson Jr.'s life.


On August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan, Christine and Earvin Johnson gave birth to their
third child, a beautiful baby boy named Earvin Jr. Earvin Jr. was born into the middle of
a family of seven children. Quincy, Larry and Pearl were older and Kim and the twins,
Evelyn and Yvonne were younger. This whole family squeezed into three small bedrooms and
one bathroom. "The place turned into a real madhouse before school every morning, when we
all lined up to use the bathroom. You learned to be quick." said Earvin once. (Johnson,
p.4) Both of Earvin's parents played high school basketball. Earvin played basketball a
bunch with his older brother Larry. (Brenner, p.44) Earvin would wake up early and play
basketball before school started. "People thought I was crazy," Earvin remembered. "It
would be seven-thirty and they'd be going to work and say, ‘There's that crazy June Bug,
hoopin'." (Lovitt, p.5) June bug was what many people called him, but his parents called
him Junior and his friends called him E.J. (Johnson, p.4) When it snowed Earvin would go
out and shovel the court. Earvin meet Jay Vincent, a child the same age of Earvin, who
displayed the same love for basketball. The two became best friends. (Brenner, p.44)


Earvin was suppose to go to Sexton High, but since of busing Earvin was forced to go to
Everett a mostly white school. The Lansing School Board had to bus some kids to Everett to
mix the races and to stop the growth at Sexton. Earvin lived a half of a mile away from
Sexton and a mile and a half away from Everett. Pearl and Larry hated Everett and Larry
was always in fights. The only Johnson who didn't have to go to Everett was Quincy who was
already in high school when the board made it's decision. Earvin made up stories saying he
was living with friends and even appealed the school board. After the hours of work put up
by Earvin, he ended up going to Everett. The Everett Vikings were a terrible basketball
team. Earvin emerge as a leader. The black students at Everett wanted to listen to their
own kind of music during lunch and Earvin got it so they could. Many of white students
even started to like what Earvin had suggested.(Johnson, p.23-25)


In basketball, he was Everett's top-scorer and rebounder in all most every game. Earvin
had became close friends with Reggie Chastine, Everett's point guard. Reggie was one year
ahead of Earvin and he was five foot six. (Haskins, p.11) Coach George Fox was a good
coach and an excellent teacher. He taught Earvin to always work on his fundamentals.
Earvin's freshman year they were picked to finish last. After a game, Fred Stabley Jr., a
sportswriter for the Lansing State Journal, called Earvin, Magic and the nickname stuck.
That year, Everett only lost one game and they went all the way to the state
quarterfinals.(Johnson, p.27-29) The next season, in a game against Sexton, Earvin scored
fifty-four points and set a high school record for most points in a game. Later, the
record was broke by Evelyn (Earvin's sister). The next game, Earvin's shooting was off and
he ended up with sixteen assists. The Everett Vikings again did not pass quarterfinals. In
Earvin's junior year, the Vikings got on a roll and made it to the state semi-finals, but
were knocked out in a sixty-eight to sixty loss to Detroit Catholic Central. Earvin fouled
out with 1:29 left in the game. He had scored thirty points and nine rebounds and he
blamed himself for the loss. He had let Reggie down since he was to short to play college
ball. Reggie made All-Capital Area Conference and Metro-All Conference first teams. Earvin
was named All-Conference Most Valuable Player And United Press International's "Prep
Player of the Year" in Michigan. That summer, Reggie was killed in an auto accident.
Earvin was devastated by the death of one of his closest friends. Earvin started to
receive five to six letters a day. In his senior year, Earvin started off the season
averaging forty points a game, but Coach Fox told him to remember his teammates and Earvin
started concentrated more in assists. The Vikings beat the Birmingham's Brother Rice High
School in the the Championship game. It was an exciting game that Everett won in overtime,
sixty-two to fifty-six. Earvin was named United Press International's "Prep Player on the
Year" of the whole country. Earvin narrowed down his decision to two colleges. He decided
to go to either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. He decided to
attend MSU. Jay Vincent his longtime playground basketball friend was also attending.


Michigan State University was on the east side of Lansing, so Earvin was close to home. He
still stayed in a dorm on campus which he shared with Jay Vincent.(Johnson, p.57) Earvin
first game the Spartans played against Central Michigan and Earvin played really bad.
Basketball became huge at MSU. For example, the practices used to be open to public, but
because of how many people started to show up it was forced to be closed. Earvin was
coached by Jud Heathcote. Coach Heathcote didn't mind turnovers or missing a rebound as
much as he minded mental errors. (Johnson,p.51-53) They finished off the season with
twenty-five wins and five loses. That season the Spartans won thirteen straight games, a
new school record. MSU won the Big Ten conference title and Earvin was first in assists,
tied for third in scoring and sixth in rebounds in the Big Ten. MSU only made it to the
elite eight where they were knocked off by the number one seed Kentucky Wildcats. Earvin
played horrible in the tournament. After talking to his parents, Earvin decided to stay at
MSU for another year. (Brenner, p.56-57) Earvin was majoring telecommunications. He met a
beautiful woman named Cookie and he asked her out to dinner. This didn't happen to much in
college, but Cookie was pleased. Cookie understood Earvin's main focus was basketball.
(Johnson, p.58-68) Earvin appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for a college
basketball preview. Earvin emerged in a tuxedos to show how classy college hoops were.
Sports Illustrated favored MSU to finish near the top, with star five of their six players
returning like Greg "Special K" Kelser, Jay Vincent, Robert Chapman and Earvin "Magic"
Johnson and receiving practicing against teams in Brazil. Coach Heathcote told the players
at the start of Earvin's sophomore season, "I told the players it will take five things
for us to win. In order, they are: teamwork, the fast break, defense, field-goal shooting
accuracy and offense. I let Earvin take care of the first two and I handle the rest." That
year the Spartans record was twenty-one wins to six loses, they also took the Big Ten
conference. In the Big Ten championship game Earvin sprained his ankle and came back in
the same game to beat the Ohio Buckeyes eighty-four to seventy-nine. In the first round of
the NCAA tournament, MSU beat Lamar ninety-five to sixty-four, behind Earvin's ten assists
and Greg's thirty-one points. The next game the Spartans rode Earvin's twenty-four points
and twelve assists to a joyride over Louisiana State in the sweet sixteen. They took out
the top-seeded Norte Dame, Greg scored thirty-four points and Earvin dropped thirteen
dimes in the regional championship.(Brenner, p.58-59) They were going to Utah to play in
the national semifinals. When they arrived in Utah they went to a ski area and ate dinner.
The skiing blew them away because none of them had ever seen it or the huge mountains. In
the national semifinals, MSU wasted the University of Pennsylvania, MSU won by thirty-four
points. Earvin had never seen the tall, blond white man everyone was comparing him till
the game where Indiana State played Depaul. That white man was Larry Bird, the sharp
shooting forward. After they watch the game in practice Sunday morning Earvin was Larry
Bird. To show the team how to play defense on Bird, Coach Heathcote told Earvin to play as
Bird. MSU played a box and one zone on Bird so he also was being doubled. At halftime at
the championship game, the Spartans were up by ten points. Five minutes later, they were
up by sixteen, but when Greg was on the bench with four fouls, the Hoosiers pulled with in
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