Today marks the 55th birthday of one of the most prolific guards to ever pick up a basketball. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a 3-time NBA MVP, 5-time NBA Champion, and a 12-time All-Star who could seemingly do it all on the court. From his dazzling plays to his unmatched versatility, there’s never been another player quite like Magic. If you need proof, consider this: in today’s NBA landscape, players rarely alternate positions. Sure, you might see LeBron clock some minutes as a guard or Melo briefly fill in as a power forward, but it’s far from the norm. It was equally unheard of in Magic’s heyday, but that didn’t stop him from literally changing the game. The 6’9” point guard actually spent time playing in every position throughout his career, often filling in at forward and shocking the world in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals against Philadelphia by taking the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabber’s spot at center.
Magic is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic players of all time, but the legend came to a halt in November of 1991 when Johnson announced that he was HIV positive and would be retiring immediately. Despite that, he went on to play as a member of the historic 1992 USA Dream Team and returned to the NBA in 1996 for a brief final run with the Lakers, proving he was not only versatile, but also incredibly persistent.
If you ask a casual fan about Magic Johnson’s signature sneakers, they’ll probably point you to the iconic Converse Weapon. While the Weapon is indeed one of Magic’s most well-known sneakers, it’d be foolish to overlook the other models he made history in. Flash back on Magic’s landmark career with some of his best sneaker moments throughout the years with Magic Johnson's Best On-Court Sneaker Moments.
Riley Jones is a freelance writer from Charlottesville, VA and a contributor to Sneaker Report. With an unshakable affinity for basketball and all things pop culture, he can be found on Twitter @rchrstphr.
No. 8 – The Dream Team
Sneaker: Converse Magic USA
Game: USA vs. Croatia, July 27, 1992
Stats: 4 points
During his run with the USA Olympic team in 1992, Magic was battling knee issues which resulted in limited playing time. That didn’t stop him from stunting in a special Olympic makeup of his signature Converse model, though. The Converse Magic USA is often overshadowed by Jordan and Barkley’s Olympic kicks, but its in-your-face branding deserves some recognition.
No. 7 – The Return
Sneaker: MVP Point Forward Mid
Game: Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers, February 2, 1996
Stats: 15 points
After a brief stint coaching the Lakers during the ’93-94 season, Magic made his return to the court in January of 1996. This time around, Magic assumed the position of power forward and averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 assists per game during his 32-game run. And instead of his trademark Converse kicks, Magic let his business savvy shine with his own line of MVP sneakers. Although the MVP line didn’t last very long, it produced a handful of solid big man models.
No. 6 – Across the Pond
Sneaker: adidas Agressor
Game: Magic Johnson All-Stars, London, September 2, 1994
Stats: Not available
In 1994, Magic got together with former ballers and college prospects to launch the Magic Johnson All-Stars team. They travelled across the world, playing teams from places like Japan, Australia, and Europe, and had a record of 55-0 upon Johnson’s returned to the NBA in 1996. This also marked the only time Magic wore adidas sneakers, opting for the supportive Agressor model.
No. 5 – Shut ‘em Down
Sneaker: Converse Weapon "White/Purple"
Game: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, March 31, 1987
Stats: 21 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds
Over his 13 year career, Magic amassed a whopping 138 regular season triple-doubles. This places him at second of all time behind Oscar Robertson’s 181, and both numbers are unlikely to be matched anytime soon. During this March 1987 contest against the Rockets, Magic was up to his usual tricks, dropping a fat trip-dub in the Lakers’ win.
No. 4 – California Love
Sneaker: Converse Cons ERX-350
Game: Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers, April 20, 1989
Stats: 19 points, 16 assists, 6 rebounds
Magic could play every position on the floor, but it’d be a stretch to call him a big man. Nevertheless, in March of 1989 he was rocking the Converse Cons ERX-350, a chunky, supportive high-top that was perfect for larger players. Heavy on branding and supportive padding around the ankle, the ERX-350 was worn by Magic as he laid a wicked double-double on the Kings.
No. 3 – Postseason Prowess
Sneaker: Converse Magic
Game: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers, April 30, 1989
Stats: 35 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 steals
After taking home back to back titles in ‘87 and ‘88, Magic and the Lakers were hungry for a three-peat. They were ultimately swept by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, but not before getting off to a blazing hot (no pun intended) start. The Lakers swept the Blazers, Supersonics, and the Suns before falling in the Finals, and Magic was out there in his signature Converse Magic model.
No. 2 – Deadly Weapon
Sneaker: Converse Weapon "White/Yellow"
Game: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, January 18, 1988
Stats: 39 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds
In early ’88, Magic was still laced in the classic Converse Weapon, opting for a white/yellow makeup during this home showdown against the Rockets. Magic was still at the top of his game, dropping 39 points and 17 assists on the Rockets for a huge double-double. Later that year, Magic led the Lakers to their second straight NBA title, which would be the final ring of his career.
No. 1 – The Lakers Beat the Supersonics
Sneaker: Converse Cons ERX-400
Game: Seattle Supersonics at Los Angeles Lakers, November 30, 1988
Stats: 40 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds
By the time the ’88-89 season rolled around, the Weapon was a thing of the past, and Magic had moved onto the Converse Cons ERX series. The Cons ERX-400 wasn’t heavy on tech, and bears a strong resemblance to the Weapon, but it marked a turning point for Magic’s sneakers. His game was on point, too, and in November he came just shy of a triple-double while he dropped 40 on the Sonics. Could this have been the game Ice Cube once famously rapped about?