Earlier this year, when Magic Johnson stepped away from the Los Angeles Lakers amid a dumpster fire of controversy, some people acted as if the King had just renounced the throne from the Purple and Gold kingdom.
On the contrary. Magic turns 60 years old today and his business acumen, passion for activism and community empowerment is as viable as ever.
The Black icon was the son of General Motors assembly worker Earvin Sr. and school janitor Christine and had six siblings. Even in a crowded home, Magic was always different. By the 8th grade, he was posting 48-point games on the court.
That magnificence continued throughout his life as played the roles of barrier breaker, leader, and corporate mogul to perfection.
Magic told you in his departing Lakers press conference that he had other things going on. He’s the great mentor, offering his financial expertise and experience as a brand builder to Serena Williams among other iconic athletes.
Regardless of what some deranged Lakers fans say, there’s always another hustle for the greatest point guard to ever do it.
Back in April, Magic joined Ice Cube’s business team, who was making an unprecedented attempt to bid on the acquisition of 21 regional sports networks from the Walt Disney Company. That’s the kind of power moves Magic’s always made.
His million-dollar smile is still Top 5 all-time. And the way he publically handled his HIV crisis back in 1991 — helped change ignorant perceptions about the disease.
It also encouraged non-celebrities suffering from what at the time was still a relatively unknown illness, to seek treatment, be open and honest about their fight with the disease. Millions of people became educated about AIDS and HIV thanks to Magic’s fearless acceptance of his situation.
Let’s not forget that Magic is also co-owner of the LA Dodgers who have reached the past two World Series. With a league-leading 80 wins, the Dodgers have a chance to finally break through and win LA’s first championship since 1988.
Johnson joined the Guggenheim group in purchasing the Dodgers in 2012. He invested $50 million in the move and brought with him a promise of a championship with a philosophy that allows the front office to function as an endless money pit.
That investment provided Magic with a 2.3 percent share in the franchise and major involvement in decision making when needed. Magic isn’t as involved with the day-to-day activities of the Dodgers as he was with the Lakers, but his name recognition alone allows him much of the blame and the props for his team’s circumstances.
It also puts an African-American face at the forefront of one of pro sports’ most valuable, popular and respected corporate franchises.
Johnson, who also owned a nearly 5% share of the Lakers, until its sale to Patrick Soon-Shiong in 2010, never played baseball, but his presence as an NBA Hall of Famer, business mogul, and celebrity personality helped turn the franchise around and made Dodgers fans feel comfortable that he would make every effort to win a championship.
Magic also has Dave Roberts, the only African-American manager in MLB, leading his team, which also speaks volumes about Magic’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in everything he does.
Happy Birthday Earvin “Magic” Johnson. All we can do is continue to thank you for your service.