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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says Magic Johnson Made A Huge Mistake When He Returned To Play For The Los Angeles Lakers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says Magic Johnson Made A Huge Mistake When He Returned To Play For The Los Angeles Lakers

There are players like Kobe Bryant who was talented but honed their skills through sheer hard work and dedication. On the other hand, there are players who are simply blessed with a flair for playing basketball, like Magic Johnson.

We are not comparing the two players in any way. But when it comes to possessing a skill set to play basketball without a lot of work, not many come close to Magic.

Even from his rookie season, Magic was proved that he was one of the best players in the league. So much so that Johnson helped the Lakers win the 1980 NBA Championship in his rookie season and also won the NBA Finals MVP.

Throughout his career, Magic left fans in awe with his supreme passing skills and ability to control the game without even scoring a lot of points. It's no surprise that he won five NBA Championship titles in his career and is considered as one of the best players to ever play in the league.

However, Magic had to abruptly retire from the NBA in 1991 due to contracting HIV. He was just 31 years old at the time and had a lot of basketball left in him.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Labels Magic Johnson's Return To The Lakers As A Glorious Mistake

The news of Magic contracting HIV spread like a wildfire, and following his retirement, he briefly returned to coach the Lakers in 1994. Magic revealed that he never really wanted to coach the team but did so only because Jerry Buss asked him to.

But Kareem wasn't calling that a glorious mistake. Instead, KAJ was referring to the time when Magic returned to the Lakers as a player.

Via Substack:

The news that Magic was going to suit up again for the Lakers made everyone’s heart gladden. But those of us who loved Magic knew that it was an enormous undertaking. When you’re away from playing on a professional level for a few years and try to come back, it’s as if you’ve never played at all. Playing at 36 is hard enough, but playing point guard, with all the running back and forth, is like being Methuselah.

I felt for him. But I had no desire to return myself. I wanted to leave my legacy intact, not listen to people complain about Kareem stumbling around the court.

At the time, Magic was 36 years old and had been out of the league for quite some time. Obviously, it was difficult for him to once again play in the NBA.

It was quite obvious that Magic was just a shell of his previous self and retired after that season. While it was the last time that he played for the Lakers, he still tried his luck with a Swedish team that he bought at the age of 40. Even with them, he didn't last long, and that was the final time that fans saw Johnson as a player on the basketball court.