On May 14, 1996, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson announced his permanent retirement from the NBA as a player, capping off an illustrious 13-year career that spanned in three different decades.
Johnson resumed his playing career in January 1996 after a four-year layoff while battling the HIV virus. He appeared in 32 regular-season games, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds in nearly 30 minutes per contest.
The Lakers were 22-10 with Johnson back in the fold and ultimately secured the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles was challenged with fending off the reigning NBA champion Houston Rockets, but were eliminated in four games.
Johnson played in his final game with the Lakers on May 2, when he registered eight points, five rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes. He pondered the prospect of returning for another season, but ultimately decided against it and went out on his own terms.
In 13 seasons with the Lakers, Johnson finished with career averages of 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. Furthermore, he ranks second in NBA history with 138 triple doubles — only trailing Oscar Robertson’s total of 181.
Among Johnson’s most notable accolades include five NBA championships, three MVP awards and 11 All-Star selections. He also earned a Gold Medal as part of Team USA in the 1992 Olympics.
Later down the road, Johnson was inducted twice into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — once for his individual accomplishments in 2002 and later in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team.
Despite retiring over two decades ago, Johnson still holds with a prominent role for the Lakers. He was named the team’s president of basketball operations in 2017 and is currently tasked with returning the organization to championship contention.