How an 11-year-old Earvin Johnson met Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
"I was goin' crazy"

How an 11-year-old Earvin Johnson met Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

For Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it was yet another day at the office. The Bucks had just beaten the Detroit Pistons, and the 7-2 center was in the locker room, putting on his street clothes. But for two 11-year-olds who snuck their way into the locker room, this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Coming all the way from Lansing, a three-hour drive from Detroit, the two wanted to see the NBA regular season MVP play. But after deceiving the security guard, making their way into the Bucks dressing area, the potential of their trip went through the roof.

Instead of just seeing him in action, two youngsters were inches away from meeting the one they’ve admired. And that meant a world to them – especially for the taller, shy one.

But when it was time for him to make a move and approach Kareem for an autograph, the boy was starstruck. One persuasive effort by his friend later, he mustered up some courage and asked Jabbar to sign his name on a piece of paper. That’s how Earvin Johnson met Kareem.

I was goin’ crazy. I was like the man of school that whole week! Yeah! KAREEEM! Everybody’s saying, ‘Let me see it!’ It was great.

Magic Johnson, LA Times

Eight years later, the two wound up in the same locker room again, only this time, as teammates. Earvin had become Magic by then, and Kareem was four years into his run with the Lakers. They ended up winning five championships together, leading the Purple and Gold to eight NBA Finals in ten years, becoming one of the greatest duos the league has ever seen.

Off the court, they’ve had their ups and downs – Pat Riley even saved them from a breakup in their third season together. But on the court, their chemistry was instant.