On this date: Magic Johnson becomes NBA’s all-time assist leader

·2 min read

By the start of the 1990s, Los Angeles Lakers icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson had seemingly done it all.

He was the proud owner of five NBA world championship rings, three regular season MVP awards and three NBA Finals MVP trophies.

But even though he was at the very top of basketball’s Mount Everest, there was one big thing he hadn’t done yet: become the league’s all-time leader in career assists.

Oh, he had led the league in assists multiple times, and he had practically invented the triple-double.

But surpassing Oscar Robertson, a legend from the 1960s, was the cherry on top that Johnson was starving for.

On April 15, 1991, he finally got there in a game versus the Dallas Mavericks, and it was a very emotional moment for him.

On the night, even though he shot just 1-of-4 from the field and only scored seven points, he notched 19 assists, a stat line that was indicative of how he could eviscerate opponents without making much of an impact with his scoring.

In fact, Julius Erving, who himself became synonymous with basketball, once said this about Johnson, a man he faced three times in the championship series:

Via ESPN:

“He is the only player who can take three shots and still dominate a game,” Erving said.

The Lakers defeated Dallas, 112-106, and with Johnson still his incredible self in his early 30s, they went to the Finals for the ninth time in his career, losing to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

Johnson would be forced to retire prematurely in November of that year when he discovered he was HIV-positive, but he had already proven himself as probably the greatest passer and floor general in roundball history.

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