Study Guide

Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Dream Team) in Olympics Books

By Various Authors

Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Dream Team)

Can't Keep Him Down

When talking about a team chock-full of egos, personalities, styles, and athletic talent out the wazoo, it's really hard to pick one guy to focus on.

Do we talk about Michael Jordan, the marketing juggernaut and possibly one of the greatest basketball players of all time? Do we relate the story of Larry Bird, the tallest, driest, most mid-western guy to ever hold his own against the likes of Jordan? Or do we shine the spotlight on Charles Barkley, the mumbling, unfiltered mouth that almost sparked an international episode?

Nope. We've unilaterally decided that of all the superstars that made up the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics, the immortal Magic Johnson needed to take center stage.

Do You Believe in Magic?

You've probably heard of him. He was voted an NBA MVP three times, played in twelve All-Star games, is the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game. He played with the Lakers for thirteen seasons, and helped the Dream Team win gold in Barcelona.

Rings a bell, right?

But other than being incredibly good at playing basketball, Johnson is known for his publicized battle with HIV. In a routine physical just before the '91-'92 NBA season, he found out he had contracted the disease. Back then, not a whole lot was known about AIDS or HIV, and it was largely considered a death sentence.

People still didn't understand that it wasn't just a "gay disease", and that you couldn't contract it just by coming into contact with an infected person. There was a ton of fear and suspicion surrounding a diagnosis with HIV, and because of this, Magic abruptly retired from the NBA.

Despite his retirement, fans voted him to be a starter for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. Some of his former teammates protested, but he played anyways, kicked butt, and was voted the All-Star MVP.

That showed them.

So, in 1992, he was selected to compete with the other NBA superstars in the 1992 Summer Olympics. The instantly dubbed "Dream Team" had Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen and Patrick Ewing.

And they were invincible.

They plowed through their competition, winning the gold after not only being undefeated, but by beating all of their opponents by at least 43 points per game. That's no small potatoes.

Since winning the gold, Johnson un-retired twice, coached, played in other leagues, written a book on safer sex, run several businesses, and worked as a commentator for NBC. He's led charity events to raise awareness and money to combat HIV, and even started the Magic Johnson Foundation to do the same.

He's an incredible public speaker and a prominent activist for universal healthcare, and continues to be in the public eye as a wonder and an inspiration. They don't call him "magic" for nothing.