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Magic Johnson explains why he was scared to leave his apartment during his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers

Culture shock and pressure to perform made Magic Johnson scared to leave his apartment.
March 1, 1988; Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson on the bench against the Seattle Supersonics at Center Coliseum

Magic Johnson

All eyes were on Magic Johnson after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. Not only because he stood out in his draft class as the young promising prospect from Michigan State, but because he was chosen by the Lakers — one of if not the biggest markets in basketball. 

So in his first two years in Los Angeles, Johnson admitted that he opted never to go out of his house because he knew all the pressure was on him. It also didn’t help that he came from a small town, Lansing, Michigan, so he was incredibly culture shocked.

"It was definitely a shock, trust me. First of all, I was scared to death coming out here. I stayed in my apartment for the first two years because I come from a small town, and so my first two years, I concentrated on really letting people know that my game was real,” Johnson said in his latest appearance on “All The Smoke” podcast.

Magic wanted his game to do all the talking

"Listen, it's hard to come to a city like Los Angeles, and all the pressure was already on me because we had won a championship, I'm the number one pick, so I got to make sure I prove to everybody that I belong in the NBA,” Johnson added.

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Luckily for Magic, he proved his hype from the get-go. 

In his rookie season, then-20-year-old was already averaging 18 points, 7.3 assists, and 7.7 rebounds. Not only did he showcase his talents early, but he became the only player to ever win a championship and Finals MVP in his rookie year with the Lakers. 

Johnson did indeed achieve his goal of proving to people that his game was indeed for real. What followed was an all-time great career in the making.

Magic did more than just prove he belonged in the NBA

In fairness to Johnson, he surpassed expectations. He’s one of the reasons why the Lakers brand is what it is today — a franchise that houses superstars from all generations. Together with Larry Bird, their rivalry played a role in saving the NBA, and they’re the reason why the league is what it is today.

As for young Magic who feared stepping out of his house, well, that’s what every young, hyped-up superstar goes through. Good on the 5-time champion for admitting that he was once vulnerable because he let the pressure get to him. 

Ultimately, the fact that Johnson not only overcame the pressure but also surpassed expectations is the reason why he will always be considered a Lakers legend and an NBA icon. 

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