Magic Johnson Sells Lakers Stake to Try His Luck in Detroit

marc mctCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

Ervin "Magic" Johnson
Ervin "Magic" Johnson

According to a team announcement, Ervin Magic Johnson has sold his stake in the Los Angeles Lakers to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Lakers season ticket holder for 25 years, for an undisclosed sum. 

In Johnson's own words, “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.”

A business decision. Really?

Magic is nothing if not a savvy businessman. In his time away from the court he has built a virtual empire of real estate, restaurant and movie chains, among other investments that have paid him handsomely.

However, despite his championship at Michigan State, Magic is and will always be linked to the Lakers. So why sell his stake of the very team he led to five championships during the showtime era to sludge through the muck and mire that has become the Detroit Pistons

In a word, control.  More than a savvy businessman, Johnson is a competitor.  He competed and succeeded on the court, in business and now, he longs for the impact that comes from competing on the highest level of ownership.  

He, as many players who have long since passed their playing days, wants an opportunity to affect the outcome of a team's future. Maybe he can succeed where thus far, his contemporaries, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, have failed.

For as long as anyone would listen, Magic's made no secret of his desire to explore situations that presented a significant ownership stake, as well as a meaningful front office position.

He recently flirted with a group that attempted to buy the Golden State Warriors with similar promises. Though that situation never manifested, Johnson clearly hasn't been resting on his laurels.

During the playoffs, Johnson was asked about his desire to have more of a say in the decisions that affect a team to which he responded, “Some people had called me and wanted me to [know] if I’m interested in being a part of a group to own the Pistons. If somebody said, ‘Hey, can you come and think about helping Joe Dumars?’ then I would think about it.”

Magic tempered these comments by clarifying that there had been no formal discussions, but by the looks of things that has changed.

"After heavy deliberation and a weighing heart, I have decided to sell my share of the Lakers" said Johnson. "I am truly humbled to have been a Lakers player for 13 years and an owner for over 10 years. I thank [Lakers majority owner] Dr. Buss from the deepest part of my heart and soul for allowing me such an incredible opportunity. I will continue to work alongside Dr. Buss, Jeanie Buss and Mitch Kupchak in their efforts to continually build and maintain the best NBA franchise in the league.”

Although the City of Angels will always have Magic's heart, Detroit presents an opportunity for Magic to make waves with a franchise that has clearly seen better days. And despite what owners have said to bolster their claims of a looming lockout, Johnson and his partners will make money whether or not they put a compelling product on the floor (Donald Sterling is proof of that).

More than being a figurehead, Magic craves the adrenaline and relevance that comes from being the ultimate chess player in the game of chess that is the NBA.  Really, what could be more challenging than that?


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