In 1981, Magic Johnson officially became a Laker for the entirety of his career. Magic signed a $25 million contract for 25 years. The beginning of the contract was in 1984 and it expired in 2009, but what is more important it was a promise to bring Johnson onboard as a part of the Lakers' front office.
In an interview for the New York Times, Dr.Buss said: "He may even be my coach". Or the general manager, or maybe he'll run for the team I'll just sit back and watch. Magic is a bright kid and I plan to make him my protégé, teach him the business aspect of sports. I realize this is a very unusual contract because we're talking about a kid whose college class just graduated. But what it comes down to is Magic is part of the family".
Magic wasn't always sold on staying in L.A., though.
As Jeff Pearlman reported in Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, one night at Jerry Buss' house changed it all. That evening, Johnson admitted to Dr. Buss' daughter, Jeanie, that he planned to play for the Lakers for three years before finishing his career close to home with the Detroit Pistons. Horrified, Jeanie relayed Johnson's plans to her father. "Jeanie," Dr. Buss said. "You have nothing to worry about … he's never going to want to leave."
Magic cared about building a legacy from the early stages of his career. Alongside that, he wanted long-term financial security. He wanted to have security upon finishing his basketball career. Even at an early age, it was clear Magic has all it takes to get everything he wants strictly based on his talent.
"I think my dad wanted to lock into a sure thing, and Magic was the sure thing. "He knew that Magic was the greatest, what he meant to the franchise, what he meant to the city. And my dad knew how to value an asset correctly, and that's what he felt the value was to him. And of course, it was unheard of and unprecedented, and it really made people think and sit up and pay attention. My dad always had a flair for the dramatic or creating something that people would talk about."
Mychal Thompson, Johnson's former teammate said "All of us NBA players had the same reaction: "Wow!. That was an incredible amount of money. I would compare that today to someone signing a $1 billion, 10-year contract."
Thompson recalled the reaction of most of his NBA peers.
"I would imagine most of us, 90 percent of us, were envious of Magic and the position and security that he got from this organization," Thompson said. "We all knew how much the Lakers appreciated him, Dr. Buss appreciated him. So that didn't surprise us that Dr. Buss took special care of him because we knew they had a special relationship, but all of us players were envious of him. Not jealous of him, just envious of him."
Johnson is the decision-maker with the Lakers, just how Dr. Buss envisioned this to happen after he agreed to a 25-year deal.
Jeanie Buss said. "It was the most satisfying deal my dad ever made because he knew what the value of Magic was to this team. It ensured that the greatest player of his generation would be forever tied to this franchise, and here we are today."