EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Back when George Fox was coaching Earvin “Magic” Johnson at Lansing Everett High School he knew he had a unique team and a unique talent in Magic.
It’s why he decided to use his tallest player as his point guard, which was rather unheard of at the time.
“I’m telling you, all of them would have played me at center and not handling the ball,” said Johnson. “But he said, ‘You know what? I’m going to let you handle the ball. You’re our best ball handler so I want you to handle it even though you’re the tallest guy on our team.'”
It’s a memory Magic shared in hopes to give people a sense of the true basketball mind Fox was.
“He was an excellent coach both offensively and defensively,” added Magic.
Fox passed away Monday, April 24.
He was 88 years old.
Winning championships were really the norm for him, and it all started in high school at Fowler. In 1952 he guided the Eagles to the Class D state championship. Then of course, as a coach, he won it all in 1977 at Everett with Magic paving the way.
Magic also raved about his Hall of Fame coach and his ability to create a family atmosphere. They always had great conversations off the court as well.
“I knew that he loved me and cared about me, but also all the other guys as well,” said Johnson. “That’s why we played so hard for him because we knew he cared about us and would always be in our lives – and he was.”
No matter where Magic was, Fox always stayed in touch.
“He used to call me, ‘E! How are you doing Big Fella?'” Johnson said with a laugh. “He was always checking on me every time I came home, he would always check. He really cared that I was doing okay in Los Angeles. I was doing okay with the Lakers. He came to every game when I was at Michigan State. Every single game.”
Fox’s compassion for his players is what leaves all of them so heartbroken with Magic of course being one of them.
Fox was first inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. He would then go on to be inducted twice more with his Everett squad getting the nod in 2012 and the Fowler squad he captained going in, in 2011.
Magic will be back in Mid-Michigan for Fox’s funeral next week and wanted the entire Fox family to know he, his wife Cookie, Mom Christine, and brothers are praying for them.