Widely regarded as the greatest point guard of all-time, Magic Johnson was the prime example of maximizing the potential of his teammates around him. The floor general of the ‘Showtime’ era, Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships by distributing the basketball in an offense that was ahead of its time.
Johnson’s career spanned 13 seasons, racking up accomplishments along the way that solidified his legacy. Many point to how the prime of his career was cut short due to the revelation of HIV, with the 12-time All-Star making a return to the NBA during the 1995-96 season.
Although Johnson looked like somewhat of a shell of himself, he was still able to show glimpses of brilliance.Entering the month of March in 1996, those around the organization and NBA statisticians everywhere saw that Johnson was approaching a significant milestone.
That achievement became a reality during their March 7 clash on the road against the Sacramento Kings. The three-time Finals MVP was closing in on 10,000 career assists, something at that point that had only been done by Dream Team member John Stockton.
The game would start off in favor of the Kings, as they got out to a 35-22 lead after the first quarter. However, the Lakers would mount their comeback in the second, outscoring the Kings by 10 points and cutting the deficit down to just three.
From there, the Lakers would step their foot on the throttle and separate themselves from Sacramento. They outscored the Kings by 16 points in the second half, emerging with a 102-89 victory. Their 37th win of the season was led by Elden Campbell, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds.
However, the night belonged to Johnson, who passed the milestone and joined Stockton in the elite company. The former first overall pick finished the game with 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes of action.
Johnson concluded his career with a total of 10,141 assists, as a true visionary both on and off the court. Johnson also remains the Lakers all-time leader in assists, leading by a wide margin over Kobe Bryant (6,306) who is in second place.
Johnson and Stockton have since been joined by Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and Mark Jackson, forming a group of five that redefined the point guard position.