|Birth Day:||August 14, 1959|
|Birth Place:||Lansing, United States|
|#1||Elisa Johnson||Children||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||26||Instagram Star|
|#2||EJ Johnson||Children||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||28||Reality Star|
|#3||Andre Johnson||Children||$20 Million||$10 Million||39||Football Player|
|#7||Cookie Johnson||Spouse||$50 Million||N/A||61||Celebrity Family Member|
|#8||Cookie Johnson||$50 Million||N/A||61||Celebrity Family Member|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
Upon attending Michigan State University, his main passion was to become a TV commentator.
Before the 1987–88 NBA season, Lakers coach Pat Riley publicly promised that they would defend the NBA title, even though no team had won consecutive titles since the Celtics did so in the 1969 NBA Finals. Johnson had another productive season with averages of 19.6 points, 11.9 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game despite missing 10 games with a groin injury. In the 1988 playoffs, the Lakers swept the San Antonio Spurs in 3 games, then survived two 4–3 series against the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks to reach the Finals and face Thomas and the Detroit Pistons, who with players such as Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, Vinnie Johnson and Dennis Rodman were known as the "Bad Boys" for their physical style of play. Johnson and Thomas greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek before the opening tip of Game 1, which they called a display of brotherly love. After the teams split the first six games, Lakers forward and Finals MVP James Worthy had his first career triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, and led his team to a 108–105 win. Despite not being named MVP, Johnson had a strong championship series, averaging 21.1 points on .550 shooting, 13.0 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. It was the fifth and final NBA championship of his career.
Johnson did not initially aspire to play professionally, focusing instead on his communication studies major and on his desire to become a television commentator. Playing with future NBA draftees Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent and Mike Brkovich, Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game as a freshman, and led the Spartans to a 25–5 record, the Big Ten Conference title, and a berth in the 1978 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans reached the Elite Eight, but lost narrowly to eventual national champion Kentucky.
Johnson was drafted first overall in 1979 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson said that what was "most amazing" about joining the Lakers was the chance to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the team's 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) center who became the leading scorer in NBA history. Despite Abdul-Jabbar's dominance, he had failed to win a championship with the Lakers, and Johnson was expected to help them achieve that goal. Lakers coach Jack McKinney had the 6-foot-9-inch (2.06 m) rookie Johnson, who some analysts thought should play forward, be a point guard, even though incumbent Norm Nixon was already one of the best in the league. Johnson averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game for the season, was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Team, and was named an NBA All-Star Game starter.
Magic Johnson had an extremely close relationship with Lakers owner Jerry Buss, whom he saw as a mentor and a father figure. Calling Buss his "second father" and "one of [his] best friends", Johnson spent five hours visiting Buss at the hospital just a few months before his death from cancer. Speaking to media just hours after Buss had died, Johnson was emotional, saying, "Without Dr. Jerry Buss, there is no Magic." Buss acquired the team from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, shortly before he drafted Johnson with the #1 pick in the 1979 NBA draft. In addition to playing 13 seasons for the Lakers and coaching the team briefly in 1994, Johnson also had an ownership stake in the team for nearly twenty years. Buss took a special interest in Johnson, introducing him to important Los Angeles business contacts and showing him how the Lakers organization was run, before eventually selling Johnson a stake in the team in 1994. Johnson credits Buss with giving him the business knowledge that enabled him to become part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Johnson and Bird were first linked as rivals after Johnson's Michigan State squad defeated Bird's Indiana State team in the 1979 NCAA finals. The rivalry continued in the NBA, and reached its climax when Boston and Los Angeles met in three out of four NBA Finals from 1984 to 1987. Johnson asserted that for him, the 82-game regular season was composed of 80 normal games, and two Lakers–Celtics games. Similarly, Bird admitted that Johnson's daily box score was the first thing he checked in the morning.
In 1981, after the 1980–81 season, Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract with the Lakers (equivalent to $70,000,000 in 2019), which was the highest-paying contract in sports history up to that point. Early in the 1981–82 season, Johnson had a heated dispute with Westhead, who Johnson said made the Lakers "slow" and "predictable". After Johnson demanded to be traded, Lakers owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead and replaced him with Riley. Although Johnson denied responsibility for Westhead's firing, he was booed across the league, even by Laker fans. However, Buss was also unhappy with the Lakers' offense and had intended on firing Westhead days before the Westhead–Johnson altercation, but assistant GM Jerry West and GM Bill Sharman had convinced Buss to delay his decision. Despite his off-court troubles, Johnson averaged 18.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and a league-high 2.7 steals per game, and was voted a member of the All-NBA Second Team. He also joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players to tally at least 700 points, 700 rebounds, and 700 assists in the same season. The Lakers advanced through the 1982 playoffs and faced Philadelphia for the second time in three years in the 1982 NBA Finals. After a triple-double from Johnson in Game 6, the Lakers defeated the Sixers 4–2, as Johnson won his second NBA Finals MVP award. During the championship series against the Sixers, Johnson averaged 16.2 points on .533 shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Johnson later said that his third season was when the Lakers first became a great team, and he credited their success to Riley.
Johnson first fathered a son in 1981, when Andre Johnson was born to Melissa Mitchell. Although Andre was raised by his mother, he visited Johnson each summer, and later worked for Magic Johnson Enterprises as a marketing director. In 1991, Johnson married Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly in a small wedding in Lansing which included guests Thomas, Aguirre, and Herb Williams. Johnson and Cookie have one son, Earvin III (EJ), who is openly gay and a star on the reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. The couple adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995. Johnson resides in Beverly Hills and has a vacation home in Dana Point, California.
Johnson introduced a fast-paced style of basketball called "Showtime", described as a mix of "no-look passes off the fastbreak, pin-point alley-oops from halfcourt, spinning feeds and overhand bullets under the basket through triple teams." Fellow Lakers guard Michael Cooper said, "There have been times when [Johnson] has thrown passes and I wasn't sure where he was going. Then one of our guys catches the ball and scores, and I run back up the floor convinced that he must've thrown it through somebody." Johnson could dominate a game without scoring, running the offense and distributing the ball with flair. In the 1982 NBA Finals, he was named the Finals MVP averaging just 16.2 points, the lowest average of any Finals MVP award recipient in the three-point shot era.
During his retirement, Johnson has written a book on safe sex, run several businesses, worked for NBC as a commentator, and toured Asia, Australia and New Zealand with a basketball team of former college and NBA players. In 1985, Johnson created "A Midsummer Night's Magic", a yearly charity event which included a celebrity basketball game and a black tie dinner. The proceeds went to the United Negro College Fund, and Johnson held this event for twenty years, ending in 2005. "A Midsummer Night's Magic" eventually came under the umbrella of the Magic Johnson Foundation, which he founded in 1991. The 1992 event, which was the first one held after Johnson's appearance in the 1992 Olympics, raised over $1.3 million for UNCF. Magic Johnson joined Shaquille O'Neal and celebrity coach Spike Lee to lead the blue team to a 147–132 victory over the white team, which was coached by Arsenio Hall.
In 1990, Johnson and Earl Graves Sr. obtained a large interest in the Washington, D.C. PepsiCo bottling operation, making it the company's largest minority-owned facility in the U.S. Johnson became a minority owner of the Lakers in 1994, having reportedly paid more than $10 million for part ownership. He also held the title of team vice president. Johnson sold his ownership stake in the Lakers in October 2010 to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles surgeon and professor at UCLA, but continued as an unpaid vice president for the team. In February 2017, Johnson returned to the Lakers as an advisor to Jeanie Buss.
After a physical before the 1991–92 NBA season, Johnson discovered that he had tested positive for HIV. In a press conference held on November 7, 1991, Johnson made a public announcement that he would retire immediately. He stated that his wife Cookie and their unborn child did not have HIV, and that he would dedicate his life to "battle this deadly disease".
Buss supported Johnson as he revealed his diagnosis of HIV in 1991, and he never hesitated to keep Johnson close to the organization, bringing him in as part-owner, and even as a coach. Johnson had never seriously considered coaching, but he agreed to take the head coaching position with the Lakers in 1994 at Buss' request. In 1992, Buss had given Johnson a contract that paid him $14 million a year, as payback for all the years he was not the league's highest paid player. Although Johnson's retirement prior to the 1992–93 NBA season voided this contract, Buss insisted that he still be paid. It was this arrangement that allowed Johnson to coach the team without receiving any additional salary. After Johnson ended his coaching stint, Buss sold him a 4% stake in the Lakers for $10 million, and Johnson served as a team executive.
After announcing his infection in November 1991, Johnson created the Magic Johnson Foundation to help combat HIV, although he later diversified the foundation to include other charitable goals. In 1992, he joined the National Commission on AIDS, a committee appointed by members of Congress and the Bush Administration. Johnson left after eight months, saying that the White House had "utterly ignored" the work of the panel, and had opposed the commission's recommendations, which included universal healthcare and the expansion of Medicaid to cover all low-income people with AIDS. He was also the main speaker for the United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day Conference in 1999, and has served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Despite their on-court rivalry, Johnson and Bird became close friends during the filming of a 1984 Converse shoe advertisement that depicted them as enemies. Johnson appeared at Bird's retirement ceremony in 1992, and described Bird as a "friend forever"; during Johnson's Hall of Fame ceremony, Bird formally inducted his old rival.
Johnson returned to the NBA as coach of the Lakers near the end of the 1993–94 NBA season, replacing Randy Pfund, and Bill Bertka, who served as an interim coach for two games. Johnson, who took the job at the urging of owner Jerry Buss, admitted "I've always had the desire (to coach) in the back of my mind." He insisted that his health was not an issue, while downplaying questions about returning as a player, saying, "I'm retired. Let's leave it at that." Amid speculation from general manager Jerry West that he may only coach until the end of the season, Johnson took over a team that had a 28–38 record, and won his first game as head coach, a 110–101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He was coaching a team that had five of his former teammates on the roster: Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, Tony Smith, Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, and Michael Cooper, who was brought in as an assistant coach. Johnson, who still had a guaranteed player contract that would pay him $14.6 million during the 1994–95 NBA season, signed a separate contract to coach the team that had no compensation. The Lakers played well initially, winning five of their first six games under Johnson, but after losing the next five games, Johnson announced that he was resigning as coach after the season. The Lakers finished the season on a ten-game losing streak, and Johnson's final record as a head coach was 5–11. Stating that it was never his dream to coach, he chose instead to purchase a 5% share of the team in June 1994.
Determined to play competitive basketball despite being out of the NBA, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team composed of former NBA and college players. In 1994, Johnson joined with former pros Mark Aguirre, Reggie Theus, John Long, Earl Cureton, Jim Farmer, and Lester Conner, as his team played games in Australia, Israel, South America, Europe, New Zealand, and Japan. They also toured the United States, playing five games against teams from the CBA. In the final game of the CBA series, Johnson had 30 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists, leading the All-Stars to a 126–121 victory over the Oklahoma City Cavalry. By the time he returned to the Lakers in 1996, the Magic Johnson All-Stars had amassed a record of 55–0, and Johnson was earning as much as $365,000 per game. Johnson played with the team frequently over the next several years, with possibly the most memorable game occurring in November 2001. At the age of 42, Johnson played with the All-Stars against his alma mater, Michigan State. Although he played in a celebrity game to honor coach Jud Heathcoate in 1995, this was Johnson's first meaningful game played in his hometown of Lansing in 22 years. Playing in front of a sold-out arena, Johnson had a triple-double and played the entire game, but his all-star team lost to the Spartans by two points. Johnson's half court shot at the buzzer would have won the game, but it fell short. On November 1, 2002, Johnson returned to play a second exhibition game against Michigan State. Playing with the Canberra Cannons of Australia's National Basketball League instead of his usual group of players, Johnson's team defeated the Spartans 104–85, as he scored 12 points, with 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
During the 1978–79 season, Michigan State again qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the championship game and faced Indiana State, which was led by senior Larry Bird. In what was the most-watched college basketball game ever, Michigan State defeated Indiana State 75–64, and Johnson was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He was selected to the 1978–79 All-American team for his performance that season. After two years in college, during which he averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game, Johnson entered the 1979 NBA draft. Jud Heathcote stepped down as coach of the Spartans after the 1994–95 season, and on June 8, 1995, Johnson returned to the Breslin Center to play in the Jud Heathcote All-Star Tribute Game. He led all scorers with 39 points.
At the age of 36, Johnson attempted another comeback as a player when he re-joined the Lakers during the 1995–96 NBA season. During his retirement, Johnson began intense workouts to help his fight against HIV, raising his bench press from 135 to 300 pounds, and increasing his weight to 255 pounds. He officially returned to the team on January 29, 1996, and played his first game the following day against the Golden State Warriors. Coming off the bench, Johnson had 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists to help the Lakers to a 128–118 victory. On February 14, Johnson recorded the final triple-double of his career, when he scored 15 points, along with 10 rebounds and 13 assists in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks. Playing power forward, he averaged 14.6 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game in 32 games, and finished tied for 12th place with Charles Barkley in voting for the MVP Award. The Lakers had a record of 22–10 in the games Johnson played, and he considered his final comeback "a success." While Johnson played well in 1996, there were struggles both on and off the court. Cedric Ceballos, upset over a reduction in his playing time after Johnson's arrival, left the team for several days. He missed two games and was stripped of his title as team captain. Nick Van Exel received a seven-game suspension for bumping referee Ron Garretson during a game on April 9. Johnson was publicly critical of Van Exel, saying his actions were "inexcusable." Ironically Johnson was himself suspended five days later, when he bumped referee Scott Foster, missing three games. He also missed several games due to a calf injury. Despite these difficulties, the Lakers finished with a record of 53–29 and fourth seed in the NBA Playoffs. Although they were facing the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets, the Lakers had home court advantage in the five-game series. The Lakers played poorly in a Game 1 loss, prompting Johnson to express frustration with his role in coach Del Harris' offense. Johnson led the way to a Game 2 victory with 26 points, but averaged only 7.5 points per game for the remainder of the series, which the Rockets won three games to one.
For his feats, Johnson was voted as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time by the NBA in 1996, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. ESPN's SportsCentury ranked Johnson #17 in their "50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century" In 2006, ESPN.com rated Johnson the greatest point guard of all time, stating, "It could be argued that he's the one player in NBA history who was better than Michael Jordan." Bleacher Report also listed Johnson first in its all-time NBA point guard rankings. Several of his achievements in individual games have also been named among the top moments in the NBA. At the 2019 NBA Awards, Johnson received the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award (shared with Larry Bird).
In 1998, Johnson hosted a late night talk show on the Fox network called The Magic Hour, but the show was canceled after two months because of low ratings. Shortly after the cancellation of his talk show, Magic Johnson started a record label. The label, initially called Magic 32 Records, was renamed Magic Johnson Music when Johnson signed a joint venture with MCA in 2000. Magic Johnson Music signed R&B artist Avant as its first act. Johnson also co-promoted Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope Tour through his company Magicworks. He has also worked as a motivational speaker, and was an NBA commentator for Turner Network Television for seven years, before becoming a studio analyst for ESPN's NBA Countdown in 2008.
In 1999, Johnson joined the Swedish squad M7 Borås (now known as 'Borås Basket'), and was undefeated in five games with the team. Johnson also became a co-owner of the club; however, the project failed after one season and the club was forced into reconstruction. He later joined the Danish team The Great Danes.
Johnson's HIV announcement became a major news story in the United States, and in 2004 was named as ESPN's seventh-most memorable moment of the previous 25 years. Many articles praised Johnson as a hero, and the then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush said, "For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports."
Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a conglomerate company that has a net worth of $700 million; its subsidiaries include Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters; and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a film studio. In addition to these business ventures, Johnson has also created the Magic Card, a pre-paid MasterCard aimed at helping low-income people save money and participate in electronic commerce. In 2006, Johnson created a contract food service with Sodexo USA called Sodexo-Magic. In 2004, Johnson and his partner Ken Lombard, sold Magic Johnson Theaters to Loews Cineplex Entertainment in 2004. The first Magic Johnson Theater located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, closed in 2010 and re-opened in 2011 as Rave Cinema 15.
Johnson is a supporter of the Democratic Party. In 2006, he publicly endorsed Phil Angelides for Governor of California, in 2007 he supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign, and in 2010 he endorsed Barbara Boxer in her race for re-election to the U.S. Senate. In 2012, he endorsed Barack Obama for president. He endorsed and appeared in campaign ads for unsuccessful Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel in 2013. In 2015, he once again endorsed Hillary Clinton in her second presidential campaign. He hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign on August 22, 2016.
In 2009, Johnson and Bird collaborated with journalist Jackie MacMullan on a non-fiction book titled When the Game Was Ours. The book detailed their on-court rivalry and friendship with one another. The following year, HBO developed a documentary about their rivalry titled Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals, which was directed by Ezra Edelman.
In 2010, Magic Johnson and current and former NBA players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Bill Russell, as well as Maya Moore from the WNBA, played a basketball game with President Barack Obama as an exhibition for a group of military troops who had been injured in action. The game was played at a gym inside Fort McNair, and reporters covering the president were not allowed to enter. The basketball game was part of festivities organized to celebrate Obama's 49th birthday.
Johnson began thinking of life after basketball while still playing with the Lakers. He wondered why so many athletes had failed at business, and sought advice. During his seventh season in the NBA, he had a meeting with Michael Ovitz, CEO of Creative Artists Agency. Ovitz encouraged him to start reading business magazines and to use every connection available to him. Johnson learned everything he could about business, often meeting with corporate executives during road trips. Johnson's first foray into business, a high-end sporting goods store named Magic 32, failed after only one year, costing him $200,000. The experience taught him to listen to his customers and find out what products they wanted. Johnson has become a leading voice on how to invest in urban communities, creating redevelopment opportunities in underserved areas, most notably through his movie theaters and his partnership with Starbucks. He went to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with the idea that he could successfully open the coffee shops in urban areas. After showing Schultz the tremendous buying power of minorities, Johnson was able to purchase 125 Starbucks stores, which reported higher than average per capita sales. The partnership, called Urban Coffee Opportunities, placed Starbucks in locations such as Detroit, Washington, D.C., Harlem, and the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. Johnson sold his remaining interest in the stores back to the company in 2010, ending a successful twelve-year partnership. He has also made investments in urban real estate through the Canyon-Johnson and Yucaipa-Johnson funds. Another major project is with insurance services company Aon Corp. In 2005–2007, Johnson was part of a syndicate that bought the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, then the tallest building in Brooklyn, for $71 million and converted the 512-foot high landmark structure from an office building into luxury condominiums.
In January 2012, Johnson joined with Guggenheim Partners and Stan Kasten in a bid for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. In March 2012, Johnson's ownership group was announced as the winner of the proceedings to buy the Dodgers. The Johnson-led group, which also includes movie executive Peter Guber, paid $2 billion for the Dodgers, the largest amount paid for a professional sports team. While Johnson is considered the leader of the ownership group, the controlling owner is Mark Walter, chief executive officer for Guggenheim Partners. Peter Guber, who is the co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, owns a small stake in the Dodgers along with Johnson. The Dodgers would win the 2020 World Series, giving Johnson a World Series title to his credit. Johnson and Guber were also partners in the Dayton Dragons, a Class-A minor league baseball team in Dayton, Ohio, that sold out more than 1,000 consecutive games, a record for professional sports. Johnson and Guber sold their stake in the Dragons in 2014.
Together with Guggenheim, Johnson was also involved in the February 2014 purchase of the Los Angeles Sparks team in the WNBA. As such, in 2014, Johnson was named one of ESPNW's Impact 25. He won the WNBA championship as the owner in 2016. Johnson announced his co-ownership of a Major League Soccer expansion franchise based in Los Angeles on October 30, 2014. The temporary name was Los Angeles Football Club, which later became permanent in 2015.
In 2015, Johnson completed his planned acquisition for a "majority, controlling interest" in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, which manages $14.5 billion in annuities, life insurance and other financial products.
On February 21, 2017, Johnson replaced Jim Buss as the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Under Johnson, the Lakers sought to acquire multiple star players and cleared existing players, including future All-Star D'Angelo Russell, off of their roster in an attempt to free up room under the league's salary cap. The franchise reached an agreement with free agent LeBron James on a four-year contract in 2018, but efforts to trade for Anthony Davis during the 2018–19 season proved unsuccessful. The Lakers did not reach the playoffs during Johnson's executive tenure. In an impromptu news conference on April 9, 2019, Johnson resigned from the Lakers, citing his desire to return to his role as an NBA ambassador.
Currently, Magic Johnson is 63 years, 1 months and 17 days old. Magic Johnson will celebrate 64th birthday on a Monday 14th of August 2023.
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