Magic Johnson made a comeback to the league in 1996, and NBA Reddit makes an interesting observation about his return.
Laker legend Magic Johnson has been loved universally by fans globally since entering the league in 1979. Heralded as the greatest point guard to ever grace the court, his charm off the court has made him a celebrity.
Hence, when Magic suddenly announced his retirement in 1991, the sports world was thrown into a frenzy. Many feared that he was a dead man walking, as a treatment for the HIV bug wasn’t known to mankind back then. Thankfully, however, the illness wasn’t very severe.
The adulation just could not come to an abrupt end, and Magic was voted a starter for 1992’s All-Star Game. This was despite him not having played a minute of the regular season that year.
He went on to win the MVP award for the game, proving his worth yet again. Magic was also selected to represent the USA in the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team”, where he performed brilliantly as well.
Magic came back to the league in 1996, and finished 12th in MVP voting, vastly exceeding expectations
Fans were still yearning for a proper comeback and Magic did not disappoint them by announcing his return in 1996. He was 36 years old and managed to play just 32 games, but he put a show on for everyone to witness.
Despite finishing the season brilliantly, however, he said it was legitimately the end of the road for him. A final glance of his genius was a gift for his fans around the world.
His return left a lasting impact for the Lakers, who went on to trade for another legend, Shaquille O’Neal, in the summer. What’s more, the Lakers also traded for Kobe Bryant before the famously stacked 1996 draft. The two moves managed to completely overhaul the team’s future and led them to glory.
Imagine a backcourt of Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, paired with the sheer dominance of Shaq upfront. Wow. NBA fans were definitely deprived of some unadulterated joy right there.