October 18, 2010: Earvin "Magic" Johnson became bona-a-fide NBA Hall of Famer without having to "be like Mike." But he may follow in the footsteps of hoops legend Michael Jordan, who this year became a majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Johnson has sold his minority interest in the Los Angeles Lakers, which he acquired in the mid-1990s after retiring from the NBA after having spent his entire career with the Lakers.
Johnson followed that up by selling his shares in 105 Starbucks franchises, giving him a two-deal windfall of more than $100 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Analysts predict the move could preclude Johnson's purchase of a much larger share of another team, including the NBA's Detroit Pistons, a franchise recently acquired by Mike Ilitch. Ilitch is head of Little Caesars Enterprise and also majority owner of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and MLB's Detroit Tigers. Under NBA rules, Johnson could not own parts of two different franchises. Johnson is said to be seeking a larger share of the Pistons than he held with the Lakers. Although specific financial details were not revealed, Johnson had a 4.5% stake in the team, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times also indicated that despite selling his shares, Johnson would remain a vp with the Lakers.
Johnson is a native of Lansing, Mich. and attended Michigan State. He has been involved with several successful business enterprises since ending his playing career. His shares of the Lakers were sold to Dr. Soon-Shiong, described by the team as a Lakers season ticket holder for more than 25 years who, among other positions, is the executive director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Bioengineering at UCLA.
"This was a bittersweet business decision made on behalf of my family and myself . . . I am and will always be a Laker for life.”
“The sale of Earvin’s share of the team is a business decision which will not change our relationship," Lakers majority owner Dr. Jerry Buss said in a statement. "Our friendship goes well beyond business.”
According to Johnson, "This was a bittersweet business decision made on behalf of my family and myself, and I want to assure all the wonderful and loyal Lakers fans that my decision will in no way affect my dedication and support for the Los Angeles Lakers. I am and will always be a Laker for life.”
Johnson, drafted by the Lakers with the first overall pick in 1979, played his entire 13-season career with the Lakers, leading the team to five championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) and nine appearances in the NBA Finals. He was named NBA MVP three times (1987, 1989, 1990) and NBA Finals MVP three times (1980, 1982, 1987).