In Maps to the Stars, Curbed LA maps the lives of the most notable figures in Los Angeles history through the places that were important to them.
The worst season in Lakers history comes to a merciful end tomorrow night. It's been a long, demoralizing slog, but with any luck, it won't get any worse—Jordan Clarkson is good, Julius Randle will be back, and Los Angeles should have a top five draft pick. Good times are on the horizon (as long as the Lakers keep that draft pick), so what better way to celebrate than by looking back at arguably the greatest, inarguably the most beloved Laker of all time? No, not Swaggy P—Magic Johnson.
Magic took the NBA by storm in 1979, winning a title and a Finals MVP in his rookie season (still the only player to have ever done so). The Lakers won again in 1982, under sleek, slick Pat Riley, and when they drafted James Worthy first overall in the following draft, Showtime was born. With a brilliant coach, an all-time great center in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a bunch of guys who could run and jump and defend (Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper, AC Green, Mychal Thompson, Kurt Rambis), Magic commanded the league's most dynamic offense, dishing no-look passes at a hundred miles an hour.
The Showtime Lakers were all flashbulbs and smiles and success, the perfect product for the decadent eighties. Magic ultimately won five NBA championships and three MVPs while notching more than 17,000 points and 10,000 assists (fifth of all-time). HIV forced him into premature retirement, in 1991; since then, he's gotten involved in some wildly successful jobs (investor, real estate developer, basketball analyst, HIV-beater) and some unsuccessful ones (head coach, talk show host). Today, Magic owns stakes in the Dodgers and Sparks, and is working to bring a new professional soccer franchise to Los Angeles. He's not only a great Laker, but a great Angeleno. —Ian Grant
· Maps to the Stars [Curbed LA]