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A trade that could’ve changed the Los Angeles Lakers' history

According to the Lakers ‘Legacy’ docuseries, Magic requested a trade out of Los Angeles.

By James Brown

According to the Lakers ‘Legacy’ docuseries, Magic requested a trade out of Los Angeles.
According to the Lakers ‘Legacy’ docuseries, Magic requested a trade out of Los Angeles.
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Not everything about the new Lakers, Hulu's "Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers," docuseries, is bad. Despite only shearing the Lakers side of history, Episode 2 covered Magic Johnson's explosive 1981 trade request. This trade could’ve changed Lakers history for ever, as Magic might be the best Laker player ever. He also ended up winning multiple NBA championships and multiple MVP awards.  

Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract after his second season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. But the Magic’s frustration started in the 1981-82 season as he wanted Paul Westhead, the then Lakers head coach, to implement a fast-paced offense run by him, but Westhead wanted to continue running the offense through Kareem Abdul-Jabbar., as he had been the leader since his trade, back in 1976.

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Johnson reached his boiling point in November 1981. After the Lakers' 113-110 win over the Jazz, he revealed that he was going to speak with team owner Jerry Buss about a trade. ”I can’t play here anymore,” he said at the time in the New York Times. ”I want to leave. I want to be traded.” leaving the team with one of two options. They either trader their most promising star or they let go their head coach. Unsurprisingly they chose the later.

His announcement surprised his teammates and head coach Westhead. The coach also commented at the time, ''This is the first I've heard of it,'' “Last year, Johnson signed a 25-year contract with the Lakers for $25 million. The contract calls for Johnson to become part of the team's management once he retires.” Eventually, the Lakers owner Jerry Buss decided to let Westhead go to keep Johnson with the team.

Magic Johnson numbers with the Lakers

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. could be arguably called the greatest Laker player in history. He definitely is in the top three. He averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds in 906 regular-season games. He was selected to play in 11 All-Star games. He won 3 MVP awards, 3 Finals MVP awards and 5 NBA championships. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. 



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