Few NBA players can claim the same accolades and records as Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Besides re-defining the point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s one of only seven players to claim an NCAA championship, NBA championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal.
Also a Hall of Famer, Johnson has been part of the NBA in almost every capacity.
He started as a player, did a little bit of coaching, served as the President of the LA Lakers, and now serves as an NBA ambassador.
With his illustrious career, it’s not a surprise that Magic Johnson would have a few NBA championships under his belt.
Here’s what you need to know about Magic Johnson’s championship rings and the stories behind them.
How Many Rings Does Magic Johnson Have?
Magic Johnson has five NBA championship rings.
He also won the 1979 collegiate championship with the Michigan State Spartans against Indiana State.
In 1992, he won a Gold Medal in the Olympics in Barcelona with the rest of the United States basketball team, also known as “The Dream Team”.
He won all of his NBA championship rings with the LA Lakers.
The years in which he won his rings are:
Johnson would help the LA Lakers get to the finals nine times during his career.
Does Magic Johnson Have The Most NBA Rings?
Johnson does not have the most championship rings in the NBA.
Despite his incredible stats and performance, the LA Lakers only won five championships while he was with them out of the nine times they qualified for the finals.
He also didn’t win any rings while he was briefly a coach.
Despite that, Johnson has a number of other accolades and awards that he’s won throughout his career.
Bill Russell holds the record for the most NBA championship rings at 11.
Magic Johnson almost makes the top 10 list for those with the most NBA rings.
Ahead of him is Michael Jordan and a series of other Boston Celtics who played during the 1960s domination era.
He’s tied with Kobe Bryant.
Could Magic Johnson Have Earned More Rings?
A few fans speculate as to whether Johnson could have earned more rings if he had stayed in the game.
He retired in 1991 after learning he had HIV.
Magic intended to continue playing, but the media attention and general treatment he received as someone with HIV prompted him to retire early.
He did come out of retirement a few times to continue to play and performed well despite being out of the league for a few years.
Because of this, some believe that if he had returned to the sport for good, he could have won more rings and taken on Michael Jordan as the best in the league.
Some also argue that he still would have had to contend with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.
At the time, the Celtics and the Lakers were archrivals.
Each team had great players in the form of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
The Celtics were the primary reason the Lakers lost as many matches as they had while Johnson was still playing with them.
If he hadn’t retired or become ill with HIV, then those threats would still exist.
He’d have another threat with Michael Jordan, too, whose career started to lift off in the early 1990s.
Considering the talent that Johnson had, there’s room for argument that he might have pulled the Lakers into a few more wins and earned a few more rings.
The matches between Johnson, Bird, and Jordan would have been legendary, regardless.
What Do Magic Johnson’s Rings Look Like?
Johnson famously doesn’t wear his NBA championship rings out of fear of losing them.
However, each one was hard-earned and priceless to him.
Here’s what you need to know about each ring and the stories behind them.
1. The 1979–1980 LA Lakers Championship Ring
The 1980 finals had a serious situation going into the final game.
The LA Lakers were in game six against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The team was winning the series at 3-2, but there was a chance that the 76ers could win and tie everything up, leading to a game seven.
The situation was even worse because the team’s star forward, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out of the game with an injured ankle.
He had injured it in the previous game.
That forced Magic Johnson to take his place.
It was Johnson’s first year with the LA Lakers.
He was fresh from college and had an NCAA win under his belt.
Famously, he sat down in Kareem’s usual seat on the plane on the way to the game and told everyone not to fear.
He was there to win it.
Despite being a rookie, Johnson proved he had what it took to lead the team.
In game six, he ended with a total of 42 points and 15 rebounds.
He also had seven assists.
Through his efforts, the team would defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 123-107.
It was a legendary moment that cemented his fame and place in the team.
He also won the NBA Finals MVP award.
The 1980 championship ring kept things simple and elegant.
The face of the ring was circular and featured a basketball on its face.
At the center of the basketball is a large white diamond.
It represents the first win of the current era.
They called this particular era of the LA Lakers seasons, “The Showtime Era”.
Also on the face of the ring are the words, “NBA,” and “World Champions.”
One side of the ring has a simple NBA logo design on it with the year on either side of it in gold lettering.
The other side of the ring is a bit more personalized.
It has Johnson’s name on it and below that is the LA Lakers’ logo.
Beneath that is a representation of the arena in which they played the final game.
On the bottom of this part of the ring is the final score of game six.
It’s written in golden lettering and says, “123-107”.
It’s a nod to the incredible performance of Johnson and the team over the 76ers.
2. The 1981–1982 LA Lakers NBA Championship Ring
While the Lakers missed out on a title in 1981, they came back with a vengeance in the 1982 season.
Once more, they found themselves up against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The series was a continuous back and forth which led right up the final game.
Johnson earned an average of 18 points and 9 rebounds per game.
He also had 9 assists per game.
One of the deciding moments in the series happened in the very first game.
The Lakers were playing in the home court of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite not being on their home turf, they managed to come away with a win.
The 76ers came back in game two on their home court to tie the series.
Game three was back in Los Angeles and allowed the Lakers to shine once more.
Johnson scored 22 points during this game which earned them another win.
They pulled ahead again in game four.
Johnson helped put them in place by scoring 24 points in the game.
Game five was another nail-biting match.
The teams were locked in a tie at the half.
When the second half started, the 76ers managed to pull ahead of the Lakers and kept themselves alive in the series.
This led to a game six.
It was back on the court in LA.
The field goals made a particular difference in this game.
The Lakers averaged 54% of their field goals whereas the 76ers only managed to score 45% of their field goals.
The Lakers would end up winning the game and the finals.
Johnson had an incredible record for this particular game.
He had a triple-triple which meant he had scored 13 points, had 13 rebounds, and had 13 assists.
He’d go on to claim his second NBA Finals MVP award.
The ring for this particular season was also elegant and simple.
Designed by Balfour, the ring was made of 14-karat gold.
It had purple enamel on its face to pay homage to the team’s colors.
At the center of the ring is a large white diamond that represents the ball of the championship trophy.
The side of the ring shows the NBA logo in its standard colors of blue and red.
In gold lettering is the year in which they won the championship.
The other side of the ring has Johnson’s name on it.
The LA Lakers’ logo appears below that.
This side of the ring also features a basketball hoop with their playoffs record next to it.
It also has the words, “Playoffs” and their record, “12-2.”
3. The 1984–1985 LA Lakers NBA Championship Ring
A lot was riding on the 1985 NBA Championship game.
The Lakers were up against the Boston Celtics in the finals.
They had been in that position the previous year and had lost the game.
It had been bitter for them, especially since the Celtics had become their rivals.
The Lakers were looking to get their revenge.
The Celtics, on the other hand, were looking to get a back-to-back win.
It hadn’t happened for some time.
There were also several changes to the NBA as a whole during this period.
The format of the game had changed to allow more travel time between games to give players and their coaches time to rest.
This new format would continue to be in place until 2013.
Both teams were evenly matched.
The Celtics had a slight edge with a regular-season record of 63 wins and 19 losses.
The Lakers had a regular-season record of 62 wins and 20 losses.
As the series started, the Lakers had a poor showing in game one.
Kareem, in particular, had a rough day.
He was slow to respond to the Celtics and essentially had circles run around him.
He knew he had played poorly and resolved himself to playing better.
He did just that.
The team came back stronger after that to win four games.
They only lost two to the Celtics.
It was the first time that the Lakers had won against the Celtics.
It was also the first time that Johnson had defeated Bird, his famous rival.
As with their other rings, the franchise went with Balfour to design and produce their championship ring.
Balfour chose to change the design this time around.
They chose a dark purple background for the front of the ring.
The championship trophy was crafted entirely out of a series of white diamonds.
A large white diamond also made up the basketball in the trophy.
The white diamonds play well against the stark purple background.
Also along the face of the ring are the words, “Los Angeles Lakers,” and “World Champions.”
There was some more personalization on the sides of the ring, too.
On one side were the words, “Purple Reign.”
It’s a nod to the team’s colors and their incredible defeat over the Celtics.
Below the words, the Lakers’ logo appears.
It matches the logo on their jerseys more closely thanks to the use of purple enamel in the basketball.
They also have the score of the series beneath the logo.
It reads “LA 4” and “Bos 2.”
These indicate the four wins that LA had over Boston’s two.
On the other side of the ring is Johnson’s name above the NBA logo.
The designers chose to use the purple background for the NBA logo again to further represent the team’s colors.
The year of the championship is also on this side of the ring.
The ring uses 14-karat gold.
4. The 1986–1987 LA Lakers NBA Championship Ring
The rivalry returned for the 1987 championship.
The Celtics had reclaimed their vengeance during the 1986 finals, but now it was up to the Lakers to realize their revenge.
The team was going into the finals with a great regular-season record.
It was their second-highest number of wins of all time.
The first game of the series started simply enough.
Johnson led the team with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists.
He also had zero turnovers in the game.
They’d win game one with a score of 126-113.
The second game saw a change in tactics with the Boston Celtics.
They tried to force the Lakers to rely on their other team members by blocking Johnson out.
They still managed to perform well thanks to Michael Cooper and Byron Scott.
Even Johnson still managed to play well with a record of 22 points and 20 assists.
Boston finally came back in game three.
Bird upped his game to help the team win at 109-103.
Game four was one of the most intense in the series.
The Celtics were winning but the Lakers tied it up in the final five minutes of the game.
Boston took the lead again, but the Lakers caught up thanks to an alley-oop from Johnson to Kareem.
With 12 seconds left, Bird managed to score a few more points which brought the Celtics back to the lead.
Kareem shot one of two field goals to inch the Lakers closer.
However, it was Kevin McHale and Mychal Thompson who prompted the ball to go out of bounds on the Celtics.
It gave Johnson the chance to do his junior skyhook and managed to put it through the hoop.
The Lakers won with a narrow 107-106 victory.
That forced a game five which the Celtics took with the help of home court advantage.
The final game saw a major return from Kareem who had shaved his head for the game.
At age 40, he had his eyes set on a fifth ring.
With an additional slam dunk from Johnson, the Lakers took the lead and kept it until the end of the game.
Johnson had won his fourth NBA championship ring.
He was also named the NBA Finals MVP.
The ring, again made by Balfour, showcased their incredible wins by using five diamonds on the face of the ring.
The gold lettering on the face reads, “World Champions Lakers,” and it also gives the year of the championship.
One of the sides of the ring shows Johnson’s name and their regular-season record.
It also shows their overall record for the entire NBA year.
On this side is also the NBA logo.
The other side of the ring features the words, “Drive for Five,” which was a motto and mantra for the team.
In particular, it was a nod towards Abdul-Jabbar.
Below that is the Lakers’ logo and the game series’ score against the Boston Celtics.
5. The 1987–1988 LA Lakers NBA Championship Ring
Unlike their previous matchups, this time the Lakers would find themselves battling for the championship against the Detroit Pistons.
During the parade for last years’ championship win, Pat Riley promised another championship win in 1988.
That immediately put a target on the back of the Lakers.
The players played hard and lived up to the promise.
They found themselves in the final series against the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons had put together a new team nicknamed “The Bad Boys” for their physical and defensive gameplay.
Game one saw the Pistons win despite being in LA.
The Lakers would respond in game two.
They didn’t want to be beaten on their home court.
Johnson also had the flu during this game, but he managed to score 23 points all the same.
Game three saw them heading to Detroit.
Despite playing on someone else’s turf, the Lakers managed to pull ahead and win the game.
Johnson was still ill with the flu, but he managed to bring in 18 points.
The series would continue with each team battling it out until they ended up playing in a game seven.
It was the first game seven the NBA had seen since 1984.
It was a tight game until the very end, but the Lakers managed to sneak ahead with a total score of 108 to 105.
To celebrate the incredible win, the championship ring used several diamonds on its face.
It also used a large white diamond as the central focus of the ring.
A purple background symbolizes the team’s colors.
On one side of the ring is the NBA logo with the words, “Back to Back,” to acknowledge the incredible back-to-back win of the LA Lakers.
The other side of the ring has Johnson’s name on it and the record for the game series.
It reads, “Lakers 4” and “Pistons 3.”
Magic Johnson had an incredible career that spanned several years.
During his time with the LA Lakers, he managed to earn five NBA championship rings.
His untimely exposure to HIV ended his career early, but he’d go on to become a successful businessman and NBA ambassador.