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YouTube Gold: Magic Johnson

Magic was the right nickname for him too.

Lakers v Kings
Magic Johnson sharing the ball with a Lakers teammate

It all seems so natural now: a 6-9 forward wants to be an NBA point guard. But in 1980, it was unheard of.

Just as Larry Bird had his doubters, so did Magic. He was never a dazzling athlete and on the break, the 6-9 forward often looked awkward. If you started to watch him today, out of context, you might see him as people saw 1950s NBA players in the 1980s.

But he had three qualities that made him an all-time great: first, he had an incomparable desire to work. Second, he had superb court vision and could do things that ordinary players could never do. Michael Jordan, for all his greatness, could never do those things. And third, all he really cared about was winning.

All of this came together to make Earvin Magic and to help the Lakers create Showtime, one of greatest eras in sports history.

Watch this clip and you’ll see. His vision and desire were only matched by his great friend and rival, Larry Bird.