Magic Johnson was the best player of the 1980s. With his 5 rings, 3 MVPS, and 3 Finals MVPs between 1980-1990, he is and will always be considered one of the most prolific players of the era. His "Showtime" Lakers are considered one of the greatest teams ever.
Then, Magic was diagnosed with HIV, killing his basketball career for 4 years throughout the 1990s, more specifically, 1991-1995. Magic made a short, unproductive return to the league in 1996.
But what if he was never diagnosed with the virus...
1991-1992 NBA Season
The Lakers were injury-riddled this year. Originally led by James Worthy, they finished with a 43-39 record. Enter a healthy Magic Johnson to take pressure off of Sedale Threatt. Although Threatt was somewhat productive, he's gonna have to ride the bench. Johnson his semi-productive stat line with a huge 19 points, 11.5 assists, and 6.5 boards. Through Johnson's top-notch facilitation, he leads them to a 55-27 record and the third seed. Jordan still gets the MVP, but Magic gets second in the voting.
In the playoffs, they square up against the sixth-seeded Spurs. I'm going to use Whatifsports to simulate the games for the rest of the video. Just gonna tell you that in advance.
1992 NBA Playoffs
They dispatch of the Spurs in a hard-fought 5, with Game 3 ending via a clutch Magic Johnson reverse layup to seal the deal, and Game 5 ending with a last-second turnaround to win by 2 from James Worthy.
They then square up against the second-seeded Jazz. These Lakers pull through against the Jazz, in seven games. All of them were blowouts, though, so yeah.
The Blazers are the final challenge in the Western Conference for our upstart Lakers. Both teams went 1-1 in blowouts on their home floors. Game 5 conversely is an enigma. Terry Porter hits a J to put the Blazers up 2, but Worthy hits a three, as time expires. The Lakers defend their home floor and take the series in 6.
The Bulls win a game on their home floor, and the Lakers steal one, but they choke both on their court. Lakers take Game 5 but lose Game 6. The Bulls win in 6, and Jordan wins Finals MVP.
Since the Lakers were already a playoff team, they don’t affect the lottery at all. They fall to the twenty-second pick, and every playoff team bumps up a slot. With this pick, They take Jon Barry, a no-name, I’ve never heard of. Because the Lakers are unable to take their original pick, Latrell Sprewell falls to the Bullets.
No Free Agency signings change at all, so, let’s get into the 1992-1993 season!
1992-1993 NBA Season
The Lakers originally finish with the eighth seed and a 39-43 record. Magic’s slight decline, which still leaves him with 19 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebound stat line, gives them a 54-28 record, and the third seed. The Warriors, with the loss of Sprewell, lose 6 more games. The Bullets tack five on in the wins column.
Remember this, because, it gets important when the lottery comes.
1993 NBA Playoffs
Anyways, in the First Round, the Lakers look to beat the Spurs. The Lakers take the first three games by margins of 25, 24, and 12, then the Spurs get the next two by 20 and 10, and the Lake Show take Game 6.
Against the Rockets, both teams win out by large margins, but LA takes the cake big in Game 7, by 18.
The Suns beat the Lakers, 4-1, blowouts every game, Magic averaged like 24, 12, and 9 though.
The Finals remain the same, with a 4-2 W for the Bulls over the Suns.
1993 NBA Draft
Some call the 1993 Lottery the craziest in NBA history, and this scenario changes the result drastically.
As you can see in the infographic provided, the Magic maintain the number one pick, but the Bullets get the second, and the Bucks get the third.
Top 5 picks: The Magic still are pushed to take Webber, although the draft order is switched, and are unable to trade him. This makes for an awesome frontcourt of C-Webb and Shaq.
The second pick goes to Washington, and they don’t have any pressing needs, and their center and point guard position have good pieces, so they go ahead and take Isaiah Rider.
The third pick is Milwaukee’s, and they have a very old Frank Brickowski, so they take the obvious pick in Shawn Bradley.
The fourth pick belongs to Dallas, and they keep Jamal Mashburn.
The fifth pick is the Timberwolves’, and they take Penny Hardaway, because, he’s one of the last true great prospects left.
Other notable selections:
Vin Baker is selected by the Warriors with the eighth pick. Baker is some consolation for Weber’s loss, however.
Instead of Nick Van Exel going to the Lakers, he makes a hop, skip, and a jump, right to the Clippers.
1993-1994 NBA Season
As we all know, this is the season where Jordan took his hiatus to play baseball, and this leaves the title hunt open for multiple teams, including the Lakers. The Lakers, with Magic, perform at a level 14 games above their original, at 47-35. This earns them the 6th seed. The Magic lose two more without Penny, as Scott Skiles can’t match the production. The Warriors lose three more, as Vin Baker, as great as he is, is not as great as Weber. Washington wins 9 more with Latrell and Rider, giving them a solid 33 win year. The Clippers gain 2 more wins with NVE. The Timberwolves' acquisition of Penny Hardaway plays in wins, as they gain 8.
As you can see, Magic's lack of diagnosis benefits more teams massively than it hurts.
1994 NBA Playoffs
The Magic-led Lakers square off against Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson's Suns and lose in 5. The Magic lose in 5 this time to the Pacers, as they don't have a guy to guard Reggie Miller. The Rockets still win the title.
1994 NBA Draft Lottery
1. Philadelphia 76ers (4th odds)
2. Dallas Mavericks (1st odds)
3. Detroit Pistons (2nd odds)
4. MilwaukeeBucks (3rd odds)
5. Sacramento Kings (5th odds)
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (6th odds)
7. Los Angeles Clippers (7th odds)
8. Boston Celtics (8th odds)
9. Washington Bullets (9th odds)
10. DenverNuggets (10th odds)
11. Charlotte Hornets (11th odds)
The NBA Draft, at least the sweepstakes for the first pick, changes drastically, as the Bucks lose it, and the Sixers make out like bandits with the first choice.
1994 NBA Draft
With the first selection, the 76ers, who originally took Sharone Wright, take Juwan Howard. This makes sense because Juwan plays PF, and Sharone played PF as well.
With the second pick, Dallas still selects Jason Kidd.
With the third pick, the Pistons select Glenn Robinson. Instead of picking Grant Hill, they take Robinson. Don't know if I can get behind it.
With the fourth pick, the Bucks take Grant Hill. Wow, even without getting the first pick, they win. Good for the Bucks.
With the fifth pick, the Kings select, Sharone Wright. Eh. All I'm gonna say is eh.
Other Notable Selections:
With the twelfth pick, the Miami Heat select, Eddie Jones. The Lakers lose out on a second star, and staples of the 2000's era in LA.
1994-1995 NBA Season
Magic shockingly announces his retirement to the world, but his season is still productive, with averages of 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists, piloting the Lakers to the record 3 games worse that of they had, 45-37, due to the losses of Jones and Nick Van Exel.
The Timberwolves improve by 12 games with Penny's massive improvement. The Warriors regress two games without Webber and with Baker. The Magic lose 6 more without Penny, and with Webber. The Bullets win 6 more with their new core. The Clips take two more on the W column with the addition of NVE. The Sixers chalk up 3 more wins with Howard. The Heat gain three with the acquisition of Eddie Jones. The Bucks win 3 more with Hill, and the Pistons lose 3 more without him.
1995 NBA Playoffs
Some things really changed here, so let's address the important series.
The Lakers lose to the Jazz in 5, pretty handily.
The Sonics and Rockets extend to 7 games, wherein the SuperSonics beat the defending champs.
The Magic defeat the Cavs, paving the way for a victory against the Pacers.
The stages are set in the Conference Finals:
Sonics vs. Jazz: The Jazz's two stars in the same positions as Seattle's overcome the pressure, and win in 6.
Another Bulls-Jazz matchup yields the same old result. Jordan just killing the Jazz and winning in 6 games, comfortably. Jordan dons the 45 jersey for the entire playoffs, as nothing made him lose it. He returns to 23 in the regular season, however.
1995 NBA Draft Lottery
1. 76ers (5th odds)
2. Clippers (1st odds)
3. Bullets (4th odds)
4. Warriors (2nd odds)
5. Pistons (3rd odds)
6. Grizzlies (Expansion)
7. Raptors (Expansion)
8. Nets (6th odds)
9. TWolves (7th odds)
10. Celtics (8th odds)
11. Heat (9th odds)
12. Mavs (10th odds)
13. Kings (11th odds)
1995 NBA Draft
The Sixers get the first and still select Jerry Stackhouse.
The Clippers still trade McDyess to Denver.
The Bullets originally took Sheed, but they see Mr. Mediocrity, Joe Smith there, and take him.
The Warriors took a PF originally, and they still do, but this time, they pair Vin Baker with Rasheed Wallace, making a menacing duo to take on Shaq and Webber.
The Pistons originally traded their pick, and they still do, to Portland, and they take Damon Stoudemire.
Vancouver originally picked Center, Bryant Reeves, but instead, there's a promising young buck out there named Kevin Garnett who's a PF/C, and they decide to take the chance on him.
Other notable Selections:
The Lakers, at #18, get to keep Michael Finley, because they never make the trade with Phoenix, and never get Eddie Jone, so that's some consolation.
The Lakers improved in the early-mid-1990's but massively regress in the 2000's. Magic's legacy doesn't really improve, but Jordan, getting his 7th ring, does cement himself as the GOAT. The futures of several teams, such as the Grizzlies, and the Bucks look very solid.