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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing basketball
The Truth About The Relationship Between Magic Johnson And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former team members of the Los Angeles Lakers, had contrasting personalities that made forming a friendship difficult.
Johnson first met Abdul-Jabbar when his Milwaukee Bucks visited the Detroit Pistons at Cobo Arena. The 11-year-old Johnson got Abdul-Jabbar’s autograph.
When Johnson joined the Lakers, he seemingly had an icy relationship with Abdul-Jabbar. They had on-court chemistry but had some communication issues off it.
Johnson told the Los Angeles Times, “It was hard to get through to Kareem.” It didn’t help that Kareem engaged in his share of rookie hazing and Johnson was his rookie to haze.
Abdul-Jabbar was sidelined for an injury, which led to speculation about a trade. Johnson reportedly told the press, “When he leaves, you’ll be able to see the real Magic show.”
Abdul-Jabbar was allegedly furious over these comments. In an interview, he said he "[wasn’t] dead yet" and the "reports of [his] demise have been greatly overrated."
Despite a rocky start, the two eventually got very close. Abdul-Jabbar told the Los Angeles Times, "It just took a while before we got to know each other."
They have remained close since. Abdul-Jabbar stood alongside Johnson when he announced his retirement in 1991, and they publicly praised one another on Twitter in 2020.