How Many Times Was Magic Johnson the NBA Finals MVP?
During his time on the hardwood, Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. earned nearly every accolade possible. The point guard won the 1979 NCAA national championship with the Michigan State Spartans before the Los Angeles Lakers chose him with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft.
Johnson spent the entirety of his NBA career as a Laker, winning five NBA championships over the course of 13 seasons. Along with his many team wins, Johnson racked up a number of personal accolades. Here’s a look at all of the times Magic was voted MVP:
Magic Johnson’s 1980 NBA Finals MVP
Often considered the greatest point guard of all time, Johnson was known to put on a show with his signature no-look and behind-the-back passes. The flair he brought to the hardwood wasn’t just for show, though. The Lansing, Michigan native’s skill also led him to multiple championships and MVP awards throughout his career.
At 20 years old, Johnson not only led the Lakers to an NBA championship during his rookie season but also secured the NBA Finals MVP award.
Winning the MVP during the 1980 NBA Finals made Johnson the first rookie to win the honor — a feat that has yet to be replicated. Johnson celebrated 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals during the final game of the 1980 NBA championship series.
After Kareem Abdul-Jabbar suffered a severe ankle sprain in Game 5, Johnson had to take on a new role in Game 6. As the team’s regular point guard, he moved into the center position, which Abdul-Jabbar had been dominant at. Luckily for the Lakers, Johnson excelled under the pressure and led LA to a victory during Game 6, securing a 4-2 championship victory for the Lakers over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Magic Johnson’s other Finals MVP performances
After winning his first Finals MVP award in his rookie season, Johnson went on to win it two more times. The second time Johnson won Finals MVP in his career was in the 1982 season. During the championship series, the Lakers once again faced the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the six-game series, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game. During Game 6, the Lakers secured a 114-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers and won the championship series 4-2.
Johnson’s third and last Finals MVP victory came in the 1987 season. Taking on the defending champion Boston Celtics, Johnson and the Lakers had their work cut out for them. Johnson put up 26 points and 17 assists during Game 5.
The point guard followed up this performance with a triple-double in Game 6 with 14 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds. Ultimately, the Lakers beat the Celtics 106-93 in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.
Johnson’s three NBA MVP seasons
Along with his three NBA Finals MVP awards, Johnson also secured three league MVP awards during his career. However, unlike his Finals MVP victories, his league MVP victories didn’t roll in until later in his career. Magic’s first league MVP nod came in the 1987 season. Johnson averaged 23.9 points, 12.2 assists, and 6.3 rebounds across 80 games during the 1986-87 season. He also won his third Finals MVP award and his fourth NBA championship.
Johnson’s last two league MVP wins came in back-to-back seasons. His second league MVP win came in the 1988-89 season, and his third and final league MVP honor was awarded during the 1989-90 season. While Johnson made it to the NBA championship series in 1989, the Lakers fell short of the championship, losing to the Detroit Pistons in a devastating 4-0 performance.
The following year, the Lakers failed to make it to the championship series. Of course, the 1990 finals marked the first year since 1979 that neither of the two NBA powerhouses, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, made it to the championship series.
Despite the Detroit Pistons winning the 1990 championship series against the Portland Trail Blazers 4-1, Magic still had a remarkable regular season. He averaged 22.3 points, 11.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game across 79 regular season games, which led to him winning his third and final league MVP award.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.