The 2019 NBA Awards will be the 3rd annual awards show by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and among the list of impressive winners to be honoured on the night include Magic Johnson who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Magic Johnson retired from pro-basketball three times: 1991, 1992 and 1996. During his career, he won three NBA MVP Awards, played in nine NBA Finals and twelve All-Star games, and bagged ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He got called up into the The Dream Team – the 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team which won the Olympic gold medal that year.
After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson started the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games. Post-active career, Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He is also a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame—being enshrined in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team. ESPN rated him the greatest NBA point guard of all time in 2007. In all, Johnson had a seventeen year-long great NBA career from 1979 to 1996.
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It is interesting to note that Johnson had an interesting friendship and rivalry with his co-recipient who played for Boston Celtics, Larry Bird. Johnson and Bird had faced-offs in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series.
As of 2012, Bird was the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.
He started his career at Boston Celtics who picked him at the 1978 NBA draft. Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986). He played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. Bird was also a member of the gold-medal-winning 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team – The Dream Team. He was also voted to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame again in 2010 as a member of The Dream Team.
After retiring as players, Johnson and Bird have continued to be influential in their private and public lives as wells as in the NBA. Bird has served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers where he was crowned NBA Coach of the Year for the 1997-1998 season and later led the Pacers to a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals. He was with the Pacers from 1997 to 2000. Three years after leaving the job as a coach, Bird was named President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers, a position he held until he retired in 2012. He was named NBA Executive of the Year for the 2012 season. The legend returned to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations in 2013 and remained in the role until 2017.
Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. He was named by Ebony magazine as one of America’s most influential black businessmen in 2009. Johnson was a part-owner of the Lakers for several years. Currently, he is part of a group of investors that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014.
Both former players are well-deserving of this award. They will be joining Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson who were honoured with the same awards in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
The June 24 event at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, will be hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. Joining him on stage in LA during the night will be Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish, Charles Barkley, Issa Rae and many, many more.