In their franchise history, the Lakers have had the #1 overall pick three times. The first time in 1958, they took Elgin Baylor and watched him become a superstar. The second time around, history repeated itself.
On this day in 1979, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was selected #1 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers got the pick thanks to a little bit of luck. As part of an early-day “sign and trade” for Gail Goodrich, the Lakers got the Utah Jazz‘s first round picks in 1978, ’79, and ’80. In the years before protected picks, the Lakers were gifted the #1 pick and didn’t waste it.
Magic would go on to have a superstar career with the Lakers, keying the Showtime offense to five titles in the 80s alone. Unfortunately, his career was cut short in 1991 when he announced that he had been diagnosed with HIV. Johnson still averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, and 7.2 rebounds and sits fifth on the all-time assists leaderboard.
Since his announcement, Magic has become a vocal advocate for HIV/AIDS research, as well as diving into ownership responsibilities as part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.