Amateur career::Magic Johnson


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Amateur career

Early years

Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan to Earvin Sr., a General Motors assembly worker, and Christine, a school custodian.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> Johnson, who had six siblings,<ref>Johnson, Earvin "Magic", and William Novak. My Life. p. 4. ISBN 0-449-22254-3.</ref><ref name=mylife /><ref>Johnson's father had three children by a previous marriage. Magic was the fourth of seven children Earvin Sr. and Christine had together. [1]</ref> was influenced by his parents' strong work ethic. Johnson's mother spent many hours after work each night cleaning their home and preparing the next day's meals, while his father did janitorial work at a used car lot and collected garbage, all while never missing a day at General Motors. Earvin Jr. would often help his father on the garbage route, and he was teased by neighborhood children who called him "Garbage Man."<ref name=siblings>Danois, Alejandro. "The Meaning of Magic.", August 20, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2013</ref>

Johnson grew up in Lansing, and came to love basketball as a youngster. His favorite basketball player was Bill Russell, whom he admired more for his many championships than his athletic ability.<ref name=bill>Roselius, Chris J. Magic Johnson: Basketball Star and Entrepreneur. ISBN 1617149454. Google Books. Retrieved May 26, 2013.</ref> He also idolized players such as Earl Monroe and Marques Haynes,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> and practiced "all day."<ref name="nbafullbio" /> Magic Johnson came from an athletic family. His father played high school basketball in his home state of Mississippi,<ref name=senior>Springer, Steve. "Could It Be Magic." Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2002. Retrieved May 26, 2013.</ref> and Johnson learned the finer points about the game from him. Johnson's mother, originally from North Carolina,<ref name=senior/> had also played basketball as a child, and she grew up watching her brothers play the game.<ref name=bill />

By the time he had reached the eighth grade, Johnson had begun to think about a future in basketball. He had become a dominant junior high player, once scoring 48 points in a game.<ref name=mylife>Johnson, Earvin "Magic", and William Novak. My Life. ISBN 0-449-22254-3. Google Books. Retrieved May 27, 2013.</ref> Johnson looked forward to playing at Sexton High School a school with a very successful basketball team and a great tradition that also happened to be only five blocks from his home. His plans underwent a dramatic change when he learned that he would be bused to predominately white Everett High School<ref name=bill /><ref name=allwhite>McClelland, Edward. Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland. p. 321. ISBN 9781608195299. Google Books. Retrieved June 7, 2015.</ref> instead of going to Sexton, which was predominately black.<ref name=mylife /><ref name=integration>"Detroit Board's Busing Decision Termed 'Unwise.'" The Argus-Press [Ann Arbor, Michigan], July 12, 1973. Google News Archives. Retrieved May 27, 2013</ref> Johnson's sister Pearl and his brother Larry had bused to Everett the previous year and did not have a pleasant experience. There were incidents of racism, with rocks being thrown at buses carrying black students, and white parents refusing to send their children to school. Larry was kicked off the basketball team after a confrontation during practice, prompting him to beg Earvin not to play. Johnson did join the basketball team but became angry after several days when his new teammates ignored him during practice, not even passing the ball. He nearly got into a fight with another player before head coach George Fox intervened. Eventually Johnson accepted his situation, and the small group of black students looked to him as their leader.<ref name=mylife /> When recalling the events in his autobiography, My Life, he talked about how his time at Everett had changed him:

As I look back on it today, I see the whole picture very differently. It's true that I hated missing out on Sexton. And the first few months, I was miserable at Everett. But being bused to Everett turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It got me out of my own little world and taught me how to understand white people, how to communicate and deal with them.<ref name=mylife />

Johnson was first dubbed "Magic" as a 15-year-old sophomore playing for Everett High School, when he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds and 16 assists.<ref name="nbafullbio" /> After the game, Fred Stabley Jr., a sports writer for the Lansing State Journal, gave him the moniker<ref name="magic">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> despite the belief of Johnson's mother, a Christian, that the name was sacrilegious.<ref name="nbafullbio" /> In his final high school season, Johnson led Lansing Everett to a 27–1 win–loss record while averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per game,<ref name="nbafullbio" /> and took his team to an overtime victory in the state championship game.<ref name="espnshowtime">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Johnson dedicated the championship victory to his best friend Reggie Chastine, who was killed in a car accident the previous summer.<ref name=reggie>Atkins, Harry. "State Basketball Championships Are Now History." The Argus-Press [Ann Arbor, Michigan], March 28, 1977. Google News Archives. Retrieved May 14, 2013.</ref> He gave Chastine much of the credit for his development as a basketball player and as a person,<ref name=yearbook>"Everett High School – Archives Yearbook (Lansing, MI), Class of 1977, Page 79." Retrieved May 14, 2013.</ref> saying years later, "I doubted myself back then."<ref name = gary /> Johnson and Chastine were almost always together, playing basketball or riding around in Chastine's car.<ref name=siblings /> Upon learning of Chastine's death, Magic ran from his home, crying uncontrollably.<ref name = gary /> Johnson, who finished his high school career with two All-State selections, was considered at the time to be the best high school player ever to come out of Michigan<ref name=reggie /> and was also named to the 1977 McDonald's All-American team.<ref name=mcdonalds>"McDonald's All-American Alumni." Retrieved May 14, 2013.</ref>

Michigan State University

Although Johnson was recruited by several top-ranked colleges such as Indiana and UCLA, he decided to play close to home.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> His college decision came down to Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing. He ultimately decided to attend Michigan State when coach Jud Heathcote told him he could play the point guard position. The talent already on Michigan State's roster also drew him to the program.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

Johnson did not initially aspire to play professionally, focusing instead on his communication studies major and on his desire to become a television commentator.<ref name="borkstars">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Playing with future NBA draftees Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent and Mike Brkovich, Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game as a freshman, and led the Spartans to a 25–5 record, the Big Ten Conference title, and a berth in the 1978 NCAA Tournament.<ref name="nbafullbio" /> The Spartans reached the Elite Eight, but lost narrowly to eventual national champion Kentucky.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the championship game and faced Indiana State, which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64, and Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.<ref name="espnshowtime" /> After two years in college, during which he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, Johnson entered the 1979 NBA draft.<ref name="stats">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> After the 1994–95 season, Heathcote stepped down as coach of the Spartans, and on June 8, 1995, Johnson returned to the Breslin Center to play in the Jud Heathcote All-Star Tribute Game. He led all scorers with 39 points.<ref name = honor />

Magic Johnson sections
Intro  Amateur career  Professional career  Off the court  Career achievements  Relationship with Jerry Buss  NBA career statistics  Books  See also  References  External links  

Amateur career
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