Magic Johnson: Billionaire point guard of the city

In a moment of reflection last summer, Earvin “Magic” Johnson thought back to two men who had helped to shape him and push him to new heights of post-NBA success, and how proud both would be if they were alive to see the breadth of his transition into the second chapter of an iconic career.

His dad, Earvin Johnson Sr., was his mentor from the time he was a kid growing up in Lansing, Mich., emphasizing and modeling the importance of hard work. Lakers owner Jerry Buss gave him the original blueprint for flourishing in business, introducing him to a new world beyond the basketball court.

Johnson’s first venture into ownership in professional sports franchises was with the Lakers in 1994 and has since expanded to include Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers (2012), the Women’s National Basketball Assn.’s Sparks (2014), Major League Soccer’s LAFC (2014) and, last year, the National Football League’s Washington Commanders. A five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and three-time NBA most valuable player, Johnson is currently part-owner of teams in four U.S. sports leagues (he sold his stake in the Lakers in 2010). No athlete is more connected to Los Angeles or has done more to connect others to the city.

“When people are running for mayor, they call me,” Johnson said. “Both Rick Caruso and Karen Bass called me. When they’re running for governor in this state, they call me. When they’re running for governor across a lot of states, they call me. And when they run for president, they call me.

“When things happen in this city, one of the first calls is to Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Who would have ever thought that would ever happen?”

Last October, Johnson was named to the billionaire club by Forbes, becoming the fourth athlete — after Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James — to reach that pantheon. It’s an honor Johnson doesn’t take lightly, given his friendships with the other three.

“Basically, you owe a lot of that to Dr. Buss,” Johnson told The Times in that summer interview. “It was his mentorship. He guided me and he was that father figure that made sure I had all the tools necessary to be successful. When you think about days like this, you wish him and my father were still alive to see what I’ve accomplished.”

Johnson, 64, said his dreams had always been to play in the NBA and to become a businessman. He is showing athletes what they can do in a post-athletic career.

“I didn’t even think about being an owner of a team — it just blew my mind,” Johnson said. “What a blessing. But you don’t get there alone. I have my people. This is not something that, like, it’s by myself. And it starts with my dad and Dr. Buss. … They paved the way for me and I can’t thank them enough.”

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