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On this date: Magic Johnson leads Lakers to NBA Finals as a rookie

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When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Earvin “Magic” Johnson with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, plenty of people doubted if he would make it in the pros.

He had led Michigan State University to the national championship just a few months ago, but that type of success doesn’t automatically translate into the NBA.

At the time, L.A. was a good team, led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s top player, but it lacked many things to become a title contender,

Magic would supply many of those missing ingredients, and then some.

The new-look Lakers used a dangerous running game to amass a 60-22 record, the second-best in the NBA, and in the playoffs, they got past the strong Phoenix Suns to advance to the Western Conference Finals versus the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Sonics were the defending champions and sported a rough-and-tumble squad, especially by West standards.

After dropping the first contest, L.A. won the next three and returned home with a chance to wrap things up in Game 5.

Wrap things up they did.

Johnson had a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Abdul-Jabbar tossed in 38 points, and the Lakers outlasted Seattle, 111-105, to advance to the NBA Finals versus the Philadelphia 76ers.

Although the Sixers were favored, Johnson would lead the Lakers to the world championship over Julius Erving and crew, starting a very magical decade for the City of Angels.

List

Where does Magic Johnson rank all time in each statistical category?