To become a star on a franchise as storied as the Los Angeles Lakers, you have to be something special. Earvin “Magic” Johnson was just that. Possibly the most popular player in Lakers history, Johnson went to 12 all-star games, won five championships, and earned three MVP awards before prematurely retiring after being diagnosed with HIV prior to the 1992 Olympics.
After his retirement, Johnson did make a few brief returns to the NBA but has since spent much of his time advocating for research into HIV/AIDS prevention and cures. Even though his career was cut short, Johnson’s popularity never dwindled, and his battles with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the ’80s remain some of the NBA’s most memorable games.