Legends never die. They transcend time thanks to the actions they performed while still breathing. Earvin “Magic” Johnson happens to be living legend. The former NBA point guard has proven for decades that he deserves a statue outside of Staples Center. He’s showcased enough brilliance to warrant any and all praise that comes his way. Since retiring, he has blazed a remarkable trail that would inspire anyone. Read on and experience Magic Johnson’s amazing story first hand.
’92 Olympic Gold Medalist
America needed saving when it came to Olympic sports. In 1988, the U.S. won the bronze medal in a disappointing effort in Seoul. Granted, the team didn’t consist of any true superstars that you would rely on to bring you gold, but they tried.
Fast forward four years and the men came back with Magic Johnson leading the way. Only one year removed from announcing his HIV diagnosis, Johnson had something to prove to the world, but more importantly himself.
Paying Homage To His Ultimate Rival
Sometimes, you don’t have to like someone, but you do have to respect them. That was the case for Johnson and his relationship Larry Bird. On the court, they’d battled each other since their college days. Then, in the NBA, they ended up playing for two franchises that have one of the biggest rivalries in sports.
Sworn enemies on the court, Bird, and Johnson aren’t as competitive off of it. In fact, during Bird’s 1993 jersey retirement ceremony, Johnson wore Celtics gear, which is the most significant sin anyone affiliated with the Lakers can do.
1992 All-Star MVP
In 1992, Johnson announced his retirement after breaking the other big news. To make it as an All-Star in the NBA, you have to be voted in. Despite the bleak situation, people still cast a vote for the legend.
Not only did Johnson play, but he excelled in a memorable performance. He scored a game-high 25 points and capped off the game by nailing a three-pointer as time expired. All of his peers swarmed him and earned the MVP honors.
In 1994, Johnson wasn’t playing in the NBA anymore. His retirement was in full swing as he was on his path to becoming as healthy as he could be. Still, he couldn’t stay off the court for too long.
Towards the end of the 1994 season, Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss urged Magic to do something. He wanted him to coach the Lakers to the end of the season. The former point guard accepted, but the team went 5-11 to finish the year.
Stepping Into The Big League
After his playing days, Magic slowly but surely made the transition to becoming a businessman. One of his biggest moves he made came in 1994, and it had to do with the Lakers, of course.
After seeing that coaching wasn’t for him, Magic bought a five percent share of the Lakers for $10 million. He held onto that all the way through 2010. That wouldn’t be the last of his savvy business decisions as you will soon learn…
Return Of The Magic Man
As we alluded to earlier, it wouldn’t be that easy keeping one of the greatest off the court. After missing four seasons, Johnson would return to playing the game he loved dearly.
It was the 1995-96 season, and Johnson was 36 years old. The star guard played in 32 regular-season games while averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game (he averaged 29.9 minutes per game). He proved he still had that magic and even tallied up a triple-double that season.
Entering The Hall
We can argue that this could have happened sooner. In 2002, Johnson finally made it into the highly-coveted basketball Hall of Fame. An honor that gets awarded to players for the impact they’ve made on the game dating back to their college days.
Not only was Johnson brilliant in the NBA, but he was steller at Michigan State University as well. The 12-time All-Star and three-time MVP was also an NCAA champion, so getting inducted was a no-brainer.
Magic has always had a way of influencing. He spoke with the owner of Starbucks and made a compelling argument that the franchise would excel in urban communities as well.
To further back his claims, he purchased 125 stores! The partnership would go on for 12-years before ending, but it was a major success. It looks like the inner-cities can thank Magic for the placements of their favorite coffee spot. Magic knew what he was talking about.
Johnson’s next industry move was an entertainment venture. He was slowly building a diverse investment strategy, and that included his movie theater business. Things first went into development in 1994 with the help of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The focus of these theaters was to create amazing multiplexes in urban communities. It was also meant to encourage local economic growth. After a few mergers over the years, the chain is now owned by AMC Theaters but still carry the Magic Johnson Theaters brand.
Hosting A Talk Show
After the NBA, the sky was the limit for Magic. He wasn’t afraid to try new things, even if meant eventually failing. When you become an entrepreneur, however, losing is apart of the game and essential if you want to win big.
Magic got into the late-night talk show business, joining the likes of Letterman and Leno. The name of his show was The Magic Hour, and it premiered in 1998. Sadly, it was canceled after just two months because ratings were low.
Magic Heads A Record Label
Another business venture Johnson got involved in was the music industry. He started a record label called Magic 32 Records that he eventually renamed Magic Johnson Music when he began a partnership with MCA in 2000.
The first act he signed was a sensational artist. Magic Johnson Music inked Avant as their opening act, who would release a platinum-selling debut studio album in 2000. That’s not so bad coming out the gate for your initial artist.
The Money Man
Another project Johnson started dealt with providing people with money. After his playing days were officially over, he set his sights on business full time. One of his first moves was creating the Magic Card.
The card was brilliant in theory. Its goal was to help low-income individuals save money and become more active in e-commerce. The only thing is that there are a few cons that money buffs have with it, such as a mandatory deposit fee.
Magic Adores All Things Los Angeles
If we had a dollar for every Los Angeles based venture Magic has ever had his hand in, we’d be able to buy some pretty sweet things. One of the icon’s biggest ventures was to lead an ownership group that had their eyes set on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2012, the group reportedly bought the Dodgers for a whopping $2 billion! The former Laker still runs the team to this day. He put forth $50 million towards acquiring the franchise.
The Motivational Speaker
As a leader on the court, motivating people off of it comes naturally for Johnson. The point guard position is usually the extension of the coach, which is why we saw Johnson coach the Lakers for a brief stint.
Outside of basketball, Johnson has become available to businesses as a motivational speaker. The man who has stared a deadly virus in the eye, won championships, and owned a whole franchise should more than enough to get people pumped up.
Magic Steps Into Analytics
Magic can read and understand the game of basketball as well as any “expert” there is out there. It only makes sense then that he joined TNT, ESPN, and NBC for a few years working as an analyst.
He sat alongside Emmy award-winners Ernie Jonhson, Kenny Smith and Sir Charles Barkley for TNT. Some feel he wasn’t as great of an analyst, but that didn’t stop him from giving it a whirl for several years. He had a different perspective.
Stepping Down From The Lakers
In 2019 Magic Johnson announced he was stepping down as president of the Lakers. The decision was an emotional one, “Today, I’m going to step down as president… I was happier when I wasn’t the President.”
The big news shocked the organization. The day before he had a three-hour meeting to discuss the future of the team after a sixth straight losing season. At the meeting, he never mentioned he wasn’t happy anymore. As he told reporters, “Somebody’s gonna have to tell my boss.”
Part Ownership Of LAFC
The only question we have to ask is what’s next for Johnson? Any opportunity involved in Los Angeles, you can bet Johnson has his hand in it. In 2016, he helped break ground on the new stadium that the MLS team Los Angeles FC plays on. Why, because he is a part-owner.
“I think even though the MLS has gone on for 20-plus years, we’re right on the cusp of breaking through to the next level,” he said.
The Magic Johnson Foundation
Magic is pretty much the poster child for fighting HIV. Always wanting to help others, he started the Magic Johnson Foundation aimed at combating the cruel disease through grantmaking.
“The Foundation, founded by Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson in 1991, works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities,” according to its website. Any help towards this is much appreciated and goes a long way towards curing it.
Another Ownership For Magic
We weren’t joking when we said Magic loves all things from Los Angeles. He has the LAFC, the Dodgers, and in 2014, he added the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
Magic was involved in the purchase of the franchise and is a part-owner. He helped the team celebrate their 2016 title season as everyone stormed the court college basketball style. Whatever spell Los Angeles has over Magic, we’re certain it’s going to keep him bound to the southern California city for a long time.
Named One Of NBA’s 50 Greatest
To further cement his legacy, the NBA came out with their 50 greatest players at the 1997 All-Star game and Magic made it. It would have been the biggest snub in history across any platform had he not been included.
With him were legends like John Stockton, Isiah Thomas (another one of his biggest rivals), Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. We’re positive that whenever the NBA updates this listing, Magic will remain for as long as it goes.