Johnson, who spent his entire 13-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers reinventing and rebranding the NBA while winning five championships with them before retiring in 1996, spoke about his desire to own an NBA team and why he turned his back on a golden opportunity to buy into the Steph Curry legacy.
Laker Loyalty: Magic Says No To Golden State Ownership
“I do, just the right situation,” Johnson replied. “But I’m such a Laker fan; I don’t know if I can do it. … I’ve had four opportunities, and I turned them all down. [Warriors majority owner] Joe Lacob and [co-exec chairperson] Peter Guber sat down with lunch with me in Santa Monica [and told me], ‘We want you to be our partners with the Golden State Warriors.’ I love both men. I just couldn’t do it. I’m a Laker. I love the Lakers.”
His Lakers allegiance has made him picky as far as investing in another NBA franchise is concerned. However, recent reports have surfaced that Earvin “Magic” Johnson is in talks to buy a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders. This move would add to his portfolio of ownership in teams, and while he has the business acumen and the funds to make a move like this happen, he is sports-savvy in every area.
A potential sale from current Raiders owner Mark Davis comes after he received an undisclosed offer for a stake in the team in August. After hearing that, Johnson is assembling a team of deep-pocketed investors to make a bid for the recently relocated Las Vegas Raiders. Mark Davis inherited the team from his father Al Davis who passed away in 2011.
Since then, the Raiders have been a mediocre franchise that hasn’t achieved any outstanding feats, but they haven’t entirely been the laughingstock of the NFL, besides the criminal activities of some of their players over the past few years.
There is no guarantee that a purchase will happen, there is no agreement right now, just talks and numbers being exchanged. The Raiders are valued at $5.1 billion as of right now, which ranks them ninth in the NFL.
Not Magic’s First Rodeo
Another huge thing to remember with this potential transaction is that this is not Johnson’s first investment in a professional sports team. Johnson was a part of Guggenheim Baseball Management’s purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. This purchase transaction was made for $2 billion.
According to Front Office Sports, this isn’t the first time Johnson has attempted to purchase an NFL team. Back in June, Johnson teamed up with Josh Harris, who co-owns the Philadelphia 76ers to buy the Denver Broncos. That bid didn’t work out and the Denver Broncos ultimately got bought out by Walmart heir Rob Walton and his group of investors.
So Magic has turned his attention to securing an NFL franchise. If Johnson does become a co-owner of the Raiders, we don’t know how hands-on he will be. What we do know is that the Raiders have been below average, to say the least.
The Magic Touch
We also know that if Magic is involved in decision-making, then the Raiders won’t be stingy with adding more high-priced free agents to get closer to being a championship-caliber team. So, a change of culture would seem to be in play if Magic purchased into the team.
Despite his rocky departure from his executive seat with the Lakers a few seasons back, Some observers believe Magic was the one who “lured” LeBron to L.A. in 2018 and publicly lit a spark under owner Jeanie Buss to improve the team, which in essence, set in motion the Lakers’ hijacking of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Which resulted in a Disney Bubble championship and a brief return to the top of the NBA totem pole.
Magic was also instrumental in convincing Stan Kasten and the other L.A. Dodgers co-owners to spare no expense in pursuing a World Series. That included giving Mookie Betts $392M. His mission was accomplished in 2020.
The Raiders are in a loaded AFC division and the only team they are currently better than may be the struggling Denver Broncos. Magic’s track record as far as buying into franchises that ultimately win is solid.
However, this plays out, Johnson is on the prowl, looking to jump onto the next NFL team to be an owner. The NFL is yet to have its first Black majority owner. Business and TV mogul Byron Allen was also rumored to have past interest in the Broncos. We can very well use more black owners in professional sports as a whole. Maybe Magic and Allen can team up and finally break the NFL’s ownership glass ceiling for minorities.