By the early 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.
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But even though he was at the top of basketball’s Everest, there was one big thing he had yet to do: become the league’s all-time leader in career assists. .
Oh, he had led the league in assists on several occasions and he had practically invented the triple-double.
But surpassing 1960s legend Oscar Robertson was the icing on the cake Johnson dreamed of.
On April 15, 1991, he finally got there in a game against 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 scored just seven points, he had 19 assists, a stat line that indicated how he could eviscerate opponents without having much impact with his score.
In fact, Julius Erving, who himself has become synonymous with basketball, once said this about Johnson, a man he faced three times in the championship series:
“He’s the only player who can shoot three times and dominate a game,” Erving said.
The Lakers beat Dallas, 112-106, and with Johnson still his amazing personality 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 into early retirement in November that year when he discovered he was HIV-positive, but he had already proven himself to be probably the greatest passer and general on the ground in the history of the ball. round.