Cover Image for How a 20 y/o Magic Johnson tried resolving the “friction” by offering the 7’2” Laker his 1980 FMVP award

How a 20 y/o Magic Johnson tried resolving the “friction” by offering the 7’2” Laker his 1980 FMVP award

Advait Jajodia
|Sun Aug 14 2022


Despite averaging more points, rebounds, and blocks than Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t end up winning the 1980 FMVP trophy.

Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are one of the most dynamic duos in league history. Co-leading the Showtime Lakers for 10 long years, 1979-1989, the iconic Magic-Kareem pairing ended up being the most successful team in the 1980s.

During that decade, there was no time as dominant as the LA-based franchise. A young Johnson and a slightly older Abdul-Jabbar ended up making 8 trips to the NBA Finals, winning 5 championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).

Also Read: How 7′ tall centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell stuck their necks out to support Muhammad Ali 

The 1980 title was one of the most significant titles for so many reasons. Prior to Johnson’s arrival in 1979, the Purple & Gold failed to make any impact in the postseason, not even reaching the conference finals for 6 straight seasons. On top of it, a rookie Magic Johnson ended up winning the Finals, a feat that is yet to be duplicated.

“Magic Johnson thought I had earned the FMVP”: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

During those finals, Johnson averaged a staggering 21.5/11.2/8.7 and won the honors. However, to date, there are several who debate that it was actually the 7-foot-2 big man who deserved the honors that year.

Abdul-Jabbar put a staggering 33.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, 4.6 blocks, and 3.2 assists per game, a stat line that is achieved by a few selected people in the history of the league.

Kareem agreed that the FMVP award cause friction between him and Earvin. The 75-year-old also revealed how the then-20-year-old tried to calm the situation by actually offering his prestigious award to Abdul-Jabbar.

“That MVP Award caused friction because some sportswriters and fans thought that I deserved it for my contributions during the full series, while others thought that Magic deserved it for his amazing display of versatility and leadership when the pressure was on.

When I met the plane when the team flew home after winning the Finals, Magic tried to give me his MVP Award because he thought I had earned it. “Thanks, Earvin,” I said, “but you should keep it. We aren’t going to let something like this come between us.” And we didn’t.”

The duo didn’t let any beef affect their relationship. They ended up winning 4 more titles in the same decade, with Kareem winning 2 FMVP honors.

Also Read: Magic Johnson started building his $620 million fortune by meeting gang leaders in LA 


About the author

Advait Jajodia

Being a two-time national-level basketball player, NBA surely had my attention from a very young age. At age 20 now, I aspire to share the knowledge I gained over 11 years with fellow basketball-lovers through my articles!

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