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Magic Johnson's legacy grows with Dodger deal

March 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Earvin "Magic" Johnson's new role as Los Angeles Dodgers' co-owner is the latest chapter in his amazing journey.

Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and played 12 full seasons with the team. He won five NBA championships and three MVP awards in a Hall of Fame career.

He retired from the NBA in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV. After leaving the Lakers, Johnson worked his magic in the business world. Johnson is chairman of Magic Johnson Enterprises, a corporate powerhouse that includes T.G.I. Friday's, 24 Hour Fitness and Best Buy.

Johnson made his name in business by partnering with Starbucks. He explained his business philosophy last week at a chamber of commerce meeting.

"I'm going to build a business in terms of letting the community tell me what's missing and then I'll bring that to the community, and sure enough it has paid off," he said.

Johnson and his partners made the bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers public in January. An agreement was reached Tuesday night for $2 billion. That not only shatters the record paid for a baseball team, it beats out the record for any price ever paid for a major league sports franchise.

Johnson is no stranger to sports ownership and management. Johnson partnered with Tim Liewecke, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owners and operators of Staples Center. Liewecke said Johnson will be out there in the Dodger stands.

"One thing I've always been impressed by Magic is he's a better businessman than a basketball player and he was a Hall of Fame basketball player, so that tells you what kind of businessman he is," Liewcke said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has worked with Johnson for years on civic projects.

"He's somebody that's understood from the beginning that cities, particularly the inner city, are not just places to avoid, as some might do, but opportunities to make investments in," Villaraigosa said.

Many believe that Johnson sees opportunities where other do not. Coujncilwoman Jan Perry, who represents the area around Staples Center, said she thinks the Dodgers deal is because of Johnson.

"It happened because of him," Perry said. "I think there's an added bonus because it's him and it's that he brings a deep understanding of the fan base here in Los Angeles."