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Magic Johnson (True) Rookie Cards

With their first pick of the 1979 NBA Draft, the LA Lakers selected Earvin “Magic” Jonson, from Michigan State University. Magic Johnson has one true rookie card.

Magic Johnson Impressive Right Out of the Gate

Earvin Johnson played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 years. He was nicknamed “Magic” while playing for Everett High School in Lansing, Michigan. A sportswriter for a local paper gave him that name after Earvin scored a triple-double the night before.

Most impressive to me was his 1978-1979 season with Michigan State. The Spartans went on to win the championship game against Indiana State in which known rival Larry Bird played for, Magic earned Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Later that same year Magic was drafted to the Los Angeles Lakers. In his first season as a pro, the Lakers went on to win the Championship. Even more impressive was Magic earning MVP of the NBA Finals in his rookie year!

Key Components of Magic Johnson’s Game’s bio of Magic Johnson explains his game the best. “Johnson introduced a fast-paced style of basketball called “Showtime,” described as “a mix of no-look passes off the fast-break, pinpoint alley-oops from half court, spinning feeds and overhand bullets under the basket through triple teams. When defenders expected him to pass, he shot. When they expected him to shoot, he passed.”

His niche was in assisting his teammates in scoring, and the numbers prove that, he averaged 11.2 assist per game lifetime. This is the highest assists per game average in NBA history.

Magic Johnson Diagnosed with HIV

Before the 1991-92 season, Magic learned he tested positive for HIV. In a press conference held on November 7, 1991, Johnson announced that he would retire from the game immediately and would dedicate his life to “battle this deadly disease.”

He has proven his dedication to making a difference. In 1991, he created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV. He was politically involved by joining the National Commission on AIDS, a committee appointed by members of Congress and the Bush Administration;

Likewise, Johnson met with House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi to discuss federal assistance for those with AIDS. Through his trials with this disease, he became a motivational speaker and has educated the public by dispelling myth’s about the disease and advocating safe sex.

Magic, The Entrepreneur

Magic always had a motivation to be a successful businessman and would often seek the advice of those who were successful themselves. He pursued his passion for business and in 2009 Ebony Magazine named him one of America’s Most Influential Black Businessmen.

In 1994, Johnson became part-owner of the Lakers, he also held the title of team vice president. He sold his ownership of the Lakers in 2010. In February of 2017, he returned to the Lakers as an advisor to Jim Buss and not long after that was named, President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Magic, Beyond Basketball

In 2012 Johnson led a group of investors in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers; they purchased the team for 2 billion dollars. In February 2014, he led a group of investors in the purchase of the WNBA team, Los Angeles Sparks.

The Sparks won the championship in 2016. Magic has also had his own talk show, record label, food service, movie theater, and credit card aimed at helping low-income people.

Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996. ESPN’s Sports Century ranked Johnson #17 in their, “50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.”

Magic Johnson has 1 autobiography, “Magic Johnson: My Life,” Random House (1992). From showman to businessman all done with the heart of a champion. I wonder how much that great smile had to do with it?

Career Stats & Accomplishments

According to Magic Johnson career stats are:

19.5 Points | 7.2 Total Rebounds | 11.2 Assist Per Game (1st All-Time)


  • 12x All-Star
  • 3x MVP
  • 5x NBA Champion
  • 3x Finals MVP
  • 10x All-NBA
  • 4x NBA Assist Champion
  • 2x Steals Champion

Magic Johnson True Rookie Card

1980-81 Topps, Card #16 (RC)

Larry Bird 1980 Topps #34 (side a)
Larry Bird 1980 Topps #34 (side b)

The sole rookie card of Magic Johnson can be found in the 1980-81 Topps set. This is a very unique set due to the three-player panels that make up the complete set.

Card #16 is an amazing card because it depicts not only the rookie card of Magic Johnson but also the rookie card of Larry Bird – the man in the middle, Dr. J is the cherry on top that has all the makings of an iconic card.

One thing to note, the hobby doesn’t consider this card complete unless all three panels are intact, so if you come across one don’t separate them!

There are two other cards featured in the 1981 Topps set, but are considered rookie year cards. The rule of thumb is if a player has more than one card in the set, the first card in the set gets the RC designation.

Card #38 in the set features Magic with Maurice Cheeks and Ron Boone. It has the same three panel format. It has the same photo of Magic with an All-Star banner on it. Also, card #161 features Magic with Julius Erving and Jan Van Breda Kolff.

Check out the article on Magic’s nemesis Larry Bird.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.