Magic Johnson was the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Lakers Showtime era that dominated the 1980s. Johnson transformed the NBA through sustained championship success. He played alongside Hall of Famer James Worthy, who still believes he is a one-of-a-kind talent.
Magic Johnson led the Showtime Lakers era
After leading Michigan State to an NCAA championship, Johnson translated that success in the NBA as the face of the Showtime Lakers.
Johnson earned numerous accolades, such as five NBA titles in nine finals appearances, won three regular-season MVP awards, and received nine All-Star Game selections and nine All-NBA First Team nods. He firmly established himself as the greatest point guard in league history and one of the best talents ever.
In his time with the Lakers, he developed a strong admiration for one of his Hall of Fame teammates.
Magic Johnson delivered a unique compliment to former teammate James Worthy: ‘James could do things you don’t even see today’
Johnson spent his entire career with the Lakers, playing alongside a couple of the game’s greatest talents.
During an interview with CBS 2 Los Angeles Sports director Jim Hill in August 2019, Johnson voiced that he believes Worthy may have been the smoothest player he played with during his illustrious career.
“James Worthy was probably the prettiest basketball player I ever played with,” Johnson said. “Because when he would go in there [palming the ball] with one hand. James could do things you don’t even see today.”
The Lakers had luck work in their favor in the 1982 NBA Draft due to previously acquiring the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick in a 1979 trade for Don Ford. Los Angeles won a coin flip against the then-San Diego Clippers to land the first overall selection to secure the North Carolina product.
Worthy served a pivotal piece to the Lakers’ dominance in the 1980s, helping them win three NBA titles. His play was critical to Los Angeles edging the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the 1988 Finals.
He lived up to his “Big Game” nickname in Game 7 against the Pistons with a triple-double performance, posting 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Worthy helped guide the Lakers to nine playoff appearances while averaging 21.1 points per game in the postseason. In 12 seasons, he earned seven All-Star selections and two All-NBA Third Team nods, and the retirement of his No. 42 jersey with the Lakers.
He earned his nickname behind repeatedly putting up strong performances in the playoffs. His play perfectly excelled alongside Johnson through his effectiveness in transition while being a highly effective third offensive option after Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar. He scored many points behind his work in the post using his patent “Worthy Spin” to get to the basket.
Worthy played a considerable part in the Lakers’ dominance in the 1980s, and Johnson’s comments demonstrate he’s well aware of that.
Showtime Lakers forever changed the NBA
Worthy sits as a vital part of a transformative stretch in Lakers’ history that further cultivated the franchise’s prestigious reputation.
Los Angeles is the NBA’s most recognizable and popular team, primarily due to the Showtime era. Johnson was the orchestrator of a highly entertaining and successful dynasty. The Lakers are the brand they are today due to the dominance displayed with the Hall of Fame point guard leading the charge.
Johnson remains a pivotal figure in NBA history, lifting it to previously unreached prominence behind legendary rivalry with Larry Bird. His legacy is tied to the Showtime Lakers team, who forever changed the NBA.