Kevin Durant Hails Magic Johnson Followed by Michael Jordan for Paving Way for Player Brands in NBA

Published 03/15/2021, 6:48 AM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 08: Magic Johnson attends New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Lakers game at Madison Square Garden on November 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)


Magic Johnson was one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. Johnson paved the way for several legendary figures such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and others. For many, Magic and Larry Bird were the stars that could transcend beyond the NBA, and Kevin Durant certainly thinks so too.

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KD pays his respect to Magic Johnson

Kevin Durant had a discussion on his podcast about what Magic Johnson has done for the game. Durant believes that Johnson was the first major superstar with a brand. He also hailed Johnson for being able to let his brand transcend the NBA. KD noted that while Jordan followed Johnson in that vein, Magic’s impact was unbelievable.

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KD said, “They don’t realize, as far as having an individual brand in the NBA, a new league at the time, Magic was the first guy to be a national brand at the time, then MJ came after. That kind of started the trend with guys, and basketball being a global sport because of guys like Magic being a pioneer. He meant a lot to the game, I can’t wait to watch that doc… Especially after the Last Dance, I know a lot of docs will be competing with it.”

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Johnson was an LA Laker his entire NBA career. Throughout his tenure, he was a multiple-time All-Star, three-time MVP, and five-time NBA champion. But off the court, Johnson was one of the most recognizable figures in the NBA, setting the standard for players. Johnson’s name became so big that he was no longer just a ‘basketball player’.

Magic and Mike paved the way

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Johnson was also a reason for the NBA’s popularity increasing. Before Michael Jordan entered the NBA, Johnson was emerging as one of the premier talents in the NBA. And during the late 1980s, Johnson, along with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, helped the NBA reach the zenith of worldwide popularity.

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LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 28: Earvin “Magic” Johnson before the MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)

Is Magic Johnson one of the greatest of all-time? He was a revolutionary figure for the NBA. While he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves, Johnson is acknowledged as a trailblazer in the history of the NBA, and he will be remembered as one of the best guards of all-time.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1207 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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