We all know Magic Johnson as the legendary Los Angeles Lakers point guard who delivered nifty passes and five NBA Championships to Tinseltown. Not everyone knows of Johnson’s career as a very successful businessman, especially the part where he netted around $100 million in just two days.
Buss and Magic
Like winning a championship, Johnson didn’t just wake up one morning and made an exorbitant amount of cash. It took some time and hard work before he collected a hefty paycheck.
The work started back in 1994. Then Lakers owner Jerry Buss gave Johnson the opportunity of a lifetime to purchase a 4.5% stake of the Lakers for $10 million. Buss, who also served as Johnson’s mentor, was very protective of the Lakers’ brand and didn’t just sell stakes to anyone else.
Buss definitely saw something in Magic that convinced him that the guard would make a fine businessman someday. And he was right. Fast forward to 2010, Magic sold his 4.5% stake to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and pocketed around $50 million.
Johnson admitted that it was tough to let go of the Lakers as the company is part of who he is. But then again, Johnson didn't need to be a Lakers owner to call himself a Purple and Gold lifer.
Johnson noted in interviews that Buss jump-started his business career in many ways. Not only did he give Magic some priceless tips, but he also helped him expand his business network.
The other $50 million-plus
In 1998, Johnson was able to convince Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to enter into a 50-50 partnership to build branches in underserved urban communities. This is Johnson’s market of choice as he grew up in the inner-cities of Michigan before making it big in the NBA.
Since it was a new market, Johnson had to adapt accordingly. One of the landmark things he did was tweak the menu. In particular, he took out scones and replaced them with pound cake and sweet potato pie — food items that fit into the palette of the urban consumer.
In 2010, Starbucks and Magic ended their lucrative partnership after 12 years. The company acquired 50 percent of Johnson’s shares. The exact amount hasn’t been disclosed. What we do know is that Johnson sealed the deal a day after the sale of his Lakers stake. Various reports reveal that he made over $100 million in just two days.
Johnson’s massive two-day haul wasn’t the result of luck. Like all great things in life, it was the result of years of hard work and careful decisions. Johnson operated in the business arena as he did on the basketball court: with showmanship and precision.