Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon relationship
Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon relationship – Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon are two legendary names in the world of basketball, particularly when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers. They were key players during the Lakers’ “Showtime” era in the 1980s, and their contributions to the team’s success are still celebrated today. However, if you’ve been watching HBO’s sports drama series, ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,’ you might be wondering if there was a rivalry between these two basketball greats. Did Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon get along in real life? Let’s explore their relationship both on and off the court.
The Background: Magic and Norm
First, let’s get to know a bit about Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon. Magic Johnson, whose real name is Earvin Johnson Jr., was drafted by the LA Lakers in the 1979–80 NBA draft. Standing at a towering 6 feet 9 inches, he played as a Point Guard. On the other hand, Norm Nixon had already established himself as the Lakers’ starting Point Guard before Magic joined the team. The Lakers had picked Nixon in the first round of the 1977 NBA draft, and he was a vital player when Magic Johnson made his debut with the Lakers.
Given that Magic and Nixon played the same position, it was clear that they would have to share playing time and the responsibility of handling the ball on the court. This setup was the starting point of their journey as teammates and potential friends.
“Winning Time” Drama vs. Reality
In HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,’ the series takes some creative liberties with the real-life events of the 1980s Lakers. In the very first episode, there’s a hint of a rivalry between Magic and Nixon when they engage in a one-on-one face-off before Magic’s rookie season. As the series progresses, the tension between them escalates, especially during the second season. This is a low point in their relationship as teammates.
In this fictional portrayal, Magic returns to the team after a significant knee injury, only to find that Nixon has been delivering outstanding performances in his absence. Things take a sour turn when Nixon makes derogatory comments about Magic in the press, and Magic retaliates in a similar manner. The tension between them even spills into the locker room before crucial games.
However, it’s important to note that the dramatic one-on-one showdown in the first episode never happened in real life. Norm Nixon himself confirmed that there was no such face-off between him and Magic during their time as Lakers teammates. As for the heated exchanges and feud portrayed in the second season, these incidents appear to be drawn from the book ‘Showtime’ by Jeff Pearlman, which serves as source material for the series. According to Pearlman’s book, an article in the LA Times dated March 31, 1981, quoted Nixon making disparaging remarks about Magic.
Pearlman also mentions that Nixon later clarified his statements, but Magic felt resentment towards his teammate and became distant. However, the book does not provide any details about locker room drama or further feuding between Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon. In the book, Nixon is quoted as saying, “I think it bothered him, and then the perception was there that Nixon can’t play with Johnson. And once a perception exists, it’s awfully hard to change that. It turns into fact. Unfair and unfortunate, but true,” explaining the impact of the LA Times article on Magic Johnson.
Despite these tensions, the book reveals that Magic and Nixon actually had a bond during their time with the LA Lakers. They shared not only their position on the court but also a love for partying. In a 1981 article published by the Philadelphia Daily News, Nixon expressed his initial frustrations about adjusting to playing alongside Magic. However, he also mentioned that once they clicked on the court, they formed a friendship off it. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon were friends during the early 1980s when they played together for the Lakers.
Their On-Court Success and Beyond
Magic and Nixon played together for the Lakers from 1979 to 1983, a period during which they won two NBA Championships. However, Nixon was traded to the San Diego Clippers at the beginning of the 1983–84 season, which marked the end of their time as teammates. Nixon ultimately retired at the close of the 1988–89 season.
Magic Johnson announced his retirement from basketball in 1991 but made sporadic returns to the game until 2000. Both Magic and Nixon have made numerous public appearances together since their playing careers ended. They have also spoken highly of each other in the media. It’s evident that any minor differences they may have had during their playing days did not affect their friendship in the long run.
In summary, while HBO’s ‘Winning Time’ may dramatize the rivalry and tension between Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon during their time with the Lakers, it’s important to understand that their real-life relationship was quite different. They were friends on and off the court, sharing both success and camaraderie during their tenure with the Lakers. Their bond endured even after their playing careers ended, proving that Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon were not just basketball legends but also true friends.
Did Magic Johnson have a problem with Norm Nixon?
No, Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon didn’t have a significant problem in real life, even though it might seem that way in the HBO drama series ‘Winning Time.’ Norm Nixon, who played as a point guard for the Lakers from 1977 to 1983 and won two NBA championships with them, has stated that the rivalry between him and Magic Johnson in the show is exaggerated.
How does Magic feel about ‘Winning Time’?
Magic Johnson and some other Lakers players were unhappy with how the canceled TV show ‘Winning Time’ portrayed them. They felt that the series, based on a book, didn’t accurately represent their experiences. Interestingly, some people who were directly connected to the team released their own series, which had more drama than HBO’s ‘Winning Time.’
Did Magic Johnson really request a trade?
Yes, in real life, Magic Johnson did request a trade, and it happened on November 18, 1981, after a game against the Utah Jazz. While the portrayal of this event in ‘Winning Time’ is quite similar to what happened, there were some small details that were important. In the show, Magic simply says he has to leave because he’s not having fun playing, but there was more to it in reality.
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