Usually, rookies in the NBA hate to do several tedious “rookie duties” over the course of their first year in the league. Magic Johnson on the other hand was one-of-a-kind as he didn’t mind doing tasks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Being an NBA player is an honour and privilege for many. However, being a rookie in one of the world’s biggest sporting leagues is a tough task. Of Course, rookies have to earn their respect and their place in the league.
The league has a long history of peculiar traditions and several funny anecdotes of various rookie duties and rituals. Even prodigies like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant weren’t excused from these infamous tasks.
It is pretty much safe to say that the rookies don’t like doing these tasks. However, former Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson was very happy doing his duties in his rookie season, especially for his idol Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Magic Johnson reveals why he would happily do work for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his rookie freaks
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had very well established a name for himself before Magic joined the Lakers in 1979. Jabbar was already an NBA champion and a 5-time MVP before he was teammates with Johnson. Needless to say, entering the league as just a 20-year-old boy, Magic was in already awe of his idol Kareem and was more than happy to be sharing the same locker room too.
Being a “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar freak”, Johnson had absolutely no issues in doing work for then then-10 year veteran. In an interview, years after his retirement, Magic Johnson finally revealed why he would happily do KAJ’s work.
“I was such a Kareem freak. I mean I loved Kareem even before I actually came to the Lakers. So when I got to the Lakers they said “oh-oh, you’re gonna be Kareem’s rookie”. I said, “Great! I’m excited. What do I need to do?” So, I went over to Kareem, “What do you need”. You know, I’m like this 2-year-old going up to him and he said, “Well, I like 2 Gatorades after every timeout or break in practice. And I want you to get my newspaper to have it at my door before every morning.” I said, “What’s else?!” I was just so excited to just be a part of his life because I wanted to get up under him and learn a lot.”
And it wasn’t only Magic who adored Kareem. Over the course of Johnson’s rookie season, he had proved himself enough to be trusted by Jabbar. The 7-foot-2 giant explained:
“We figured out how we could help each other. He knew to get me the ball, I knew how to help him on defense. All of a sudden, people had to focus on him to make sure that he wasn’t a guy that was gonna beat them. And that gave me opportunities.”
The two worked pretty well hand-in-hand the entire 1979-80 season, and their chemistry on and off the court was undeniably great. While the guard averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, the big man went on to win his 6th MVP trophy putting up a staggering 24.8/10.8/4.5 to help the Lakers win the NBA title that very season.