Sports have long been lauded in the United States, and prominent sports figures frequently enjoy wide acclaim. Thus, Magic has had a wide reading audience, particularly among young people. Because Johnson was still in his early twenties when Magic was published, his discussion of his life up to that point is especially compelling for young readers. Adding to Johnson’s credibility is the indication, in the author’s note preceding the text, that the writing was from memory and that, while some statements appearing as quotes are actually paraphrased, their substance is accurately reflected.
Johnson was frequently described as the ultimate team player, and he portrays his own life in much that manner and spirit in Magic. In those chapters that are focused on Johnson’s professional career, there is a good balance between the revelation of his thoughts and actions and the expressed thoughts and actions of his teammates, coaches, and other team personnel. It is also clear, implicitly and explicitly, that Johnson sought to make all of these relationships positive ones, enabling them to accomplish team goals. A bit uneasy early in his rookie year, Johnson was told that his enthusiastic style would not work in the National Basketball Association (NBA); he said nothing, but within weeks of the season’s opening, he was on the way to quietly proving that it would. Johnson claims that, when individuals begin to find success in team play, the team becomes more successful and happier. He also shows how outsiders, particularly in the media, can unwittingly create or contribute to difficulties for...
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Because Johnson has long demonstrated keen interests in pleasing fans, positively influencing young people, and competing with peers, Magic may have been written for any or all of these reasons. It may also have been written to explain his perspective on several controversies that troubled his early professional career, such as his second-year contract or the firing of Coach Paul Westhead.
Magic is a refreshingly honest autobiography from a famous sports figure. Talent and successes are presented, but they are not the essence of this work. What shines through Magic is the importance of basic values in achieving success. This book succeeds because it reveals the superstar and the human being, with due credit lovingly given to those most significant in Johnson’s development.
If Magic was not a classic biography for young people before November, 1991, then it surely became one afterward. Johnson’s fame is inescapable in the annals of sports history, and the tragedy of his acquisition of HIV put him further in the public eye. These factors combine to ensure a public interest in Johnson and in this book for years to come. Magic is the Earvin Johnson biography of choice because of its authorship and because his other autobiographical work, Magic’s Touch (1989, coauthored with Roy S. Johnson), focuses much more on the fundamentals of basketball and thus has a more limited audience.