Magic: The Life of Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Hardcover)

Magic: The Life of Earvin “Magic” Johnson By Roland Lazenby Cover Image

Magic: The Life of Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Hardcover)

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The definitive biography of the basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, from the highly respected, career sportswriter and author of Michael Jordan: The Life.

Magic Johnson is one of the most beloved, and at times controversial, athletes in history. His iconic smile lifted the dowdy sport of American professional basketball from a second-tier sport with low ratings into the global spotlight—a transformation driven by Magic’s ability to eviscerate opponents with a playing style that featured his grand sense of fun. He was a master entertainer who directed the Los Angeles “Showtime” Lakers to the heights of both glory and epic excess, all of it driven by his mind-blowing no-look passes and personal charm.

Then, in 1991, at the height of his charismatic power, Johnson shocked the world with a startling cautionary tale about sexually transmitted disease that pushed public awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Then out came his confession of unprotected sex with hundreds of women each year, followed by his retirement, an attempted return, and a proper farewell on the iconic 1992 Olympic Dream Team.

Longtime biographer Roland Lazenby spent years tracking the unlikely ascension of Johnson—an immensely popular public figure who was instantly scandalized but who then turned to his legendary will to rise again as a successful entrepreneur with another level of hard-won success. In Lazenby’s portrayal, Johnson’s tale becomes bigger than that of one man. It is a generational saga spanning parts of three centuries that reveals a great deal, not just about his unique basketball journey but about America itself.

Through hundreds of interviews with Johnson’s coaches, representatives past and present, teammates, opponents, friends, and loved ones, as well as key conversations with Johnson himself over the years, Lazenby has produced the first truly definitive study, both dark and light, of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr.—the revolutionary player, the icon, the man.

Roland Lazenby is the author of definitive biographies of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry West, among other books. He has spent the past three decades interviewing NBA players, coaches, staff members, and other figures while writing about the league. He lives in Salem, VA.
Product Details ISBN: 9781250248039
ISBN-10: 1250248035
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication Date: October 24th, 2023
Pages: 832
Language: English

PRAISE FOR Magic: The Life of Earvin "Magic" Johnson

"[A] compendious, scrupulously researched biography, so rich in basketball and cultural lore...What “Magic” gives us is a wealth of detail, a huge cast of characters and, in a way, the tapestry of our time as illustrated by this supremely talented and beguiling figure."
The New York Times

"Magic reigns as a wonderful and comprehensive biography of a world-class athlete and fascinating person...[a] masterful examination of the man behind the winning smile and unbreakable confidence." —Booklist

"Magic, a biography of basketball star Earvin Johnson, deserves to be the first sports biography ever to win a Pulitzer prize. Author Roland Lazenby has written a can’t-put-down masterpiece, combining incredible research, a remarkable story of greatness and tragedy, and a beautiful narrative to produce a timeless classic about one of the most fascinating athletes ever to fast break into America’s heart."
—Peter Golenbock, New York Times bestselling author of The Bronx Zoo and Bums

"Roland Lazenby’s comprehensive tome regarding this profound legacy could only be titled Magic...With narrative clarity and observational depth of focus, Lazenby’s book carefully guides us on this epic journey through the life and times of one of the most significant cultural figures that America has ever known.”
—Dr. Todd Boyd, aka Notorious Ph.D., Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture in the USC School of Cinematic Arts


PRAISE FOR ROLAND LAZENBY

"Roland Lazenby's the David McCullough of the sports biography." ―Matt "Money" Smith, Fox Sports Radio

"Lazenby is one of the best, most thoughtful and thorough people writing books on the NBA today, which makes all his books fascinating reads and great looks at the psychology of teams and great players. His stuff is must read."―Kurt Helin, NBC Sports' Pro Basketball Talk

"Roland Lazenby is one of the preeminent voices when it comes professional hoops…"―Sean Burch, FOX Sports' "Lake Show Life"


PRAISE FOR Michael Jordan: The Life

One of Chicago Public Library's Best Books of 2014
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist: History and Biography
One of Amazon's Best Books of the Year: Sports & Outdoors, 2014

"In his thoughtful, extraordinarily well-­researched biography ‘Michael Jordan: The Life,’ Roland Lazenby... gives us the life and much more.... The exhaustive narrative of Jordan's basketball career is written with appropriate awe. But what makes this portrayal especially worthwhile is everything else."―Mike Greenberg, New York Times Book Review

"What makes this portrayal especially worthwhile is the long trail Lazenby follows before the awesome career even begins."New York Times Book Review's "Editor's Choice"

"An utterly definitive biography.... The most comprehensive attempt yet made to explain the factors that have gone into producing the most famous basketball player and marketing phenom in the history of world sports....I don't know how it would be possible to write a more complete biography of him."The Chicago Tribune

"Revelatory.... A fascinating examination into the lonely, prideful man behind the glimmering icon."―Publishers Weekly

"Lazenby's thoroughly enjoyable biography is an impressive portrait of a man consumed by his competitive ambitions. It is also by far the most complete book on Michael Jordan to date.... Essential reading for all sports fans and particularly for those interested in American cultural history and popular culture."―Library Journal, Starred Review

"Studded with insights."―Kirkus Reviews

"Roland Lazenby's new biography of Michael Jordan is as breathtaking as a dunk by 'His Airness.' ... A richly detailed, thoroughly researched book.... Lazenby expertly sifts through the myths to produce a definitive portrait of Michael Jordan."―Bob D'Angelo, Tampa Tribune

"A lot has been written about arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, but Roland Lazenby's Michael Jordan: The Life is easily the definitive version. The journalist has covered Jordan's career for nearly thirty years and his knowledge of the game and of this miraculous player shows in what is one of the best sports biographies in years."―Parade

"Lazenby looks beyond the on-court exploits of a sports and cultural icon to find the complicated, and often contradictory, man behind the myth."―ESPN

"The definitive portrait.... The dream of the non-fiction writer is to condemn future books on the same subject to irrelevance. It's possible Lazenby has achieved this lofty goal: nothing more needs to be written about Jordan."―Adrian Lee, Macleans

"The wonderfully researched and thoughtful story of the six-time NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, Michael Jordan: The Life, lives up to its hype."―Jill Krasny, Esquire

"Lazenby's prose soars as dramatically and excitingly as does his subject. Jordan appeared to fly through the air; Lazenby makes time fly as readers immerse themselves in an extraordinarily competitive life. Does any biography deserve 700 pages? When you read Lazenby's Michael Jordan: The Life you'll be hard-pressed to answer anything but yes."―Michael Levin, New York Journal of Books


PRAISE FOR Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant

"Essential reading."―Jeremy Schaap, ESPN

"There is more than enough analysis of Bryant's on-court accomplishments to satisfy the hard-core hoops fan, but the meatier material is in the Bryant family dynamics...Showboat is an often insightful look at a complicated and still relatively young man."―Phil Taylor, Washington Post

"With the publication of Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant, it is high time we recognized author Roland Lazenby for what he has become: the finest sports biographer of our time. First with the astonishing Michael Jordan: The Life and now his having written an incredibly researched, beautifully written biography of this enigmatic Laker superstar, Lazenby has entered rarified air: one is wowed by what one learns and at the same time you can't wait to read what comes next."―Peter Golenbock, author of ten New York Times bestsellers

"This book is easily going to end up on some definitive must-read list for Lakers books. I've read Phil Jackson's Eleven Rings, Jeanie Buss' Laker Girl, and Madmen's Ball, but none of those quite compare to Showboat."―Lakers Outsider

"'Showboat' is more than just for show. It's a tell all that shows us there's more to a man than the name on the back of his jersey...or even the one on the front."―Tim David Harvey, Basketball Buzz

"Roland Lazenby’s comprehensive tome regarding this profound legacy could only be titled Magic...With narrative clarity and observational depth of focus, Lazenby’s book carefully guides us on this epic journey through the life and times of one of the most significant cultural figures that America has ever known.”
—Dr. Todd Boyd, aka Notorious Ph.D., Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture in the USC School of Cinematic Arts



PRAISE FOR Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon

“Sports biographies tend to careen between breathless hagiography and the slyly salacious. Lazenby...has produced something of a different order—a first-rate piece of narrative nonfiction whose subject happens to be a star athlete. His biography of West is, by turns, smart, beautifully reported, well written and psychologically shrewd." Los Angeles Times

“A thoughtful, serious biography of an athlete both blessed and cursed by talent and a competitive spirit.” Booklist, Starred Review

“Lazenby accurately captures the inner man, his quirks, rituals, competitiveness...a great example of old-school sports bio without tabloid muck, satisfying all fans.” —Publishers Weekly

"[A] masterful examination of the man behind the winning smile and unbreakable confidence." - Booklist