Earvin “Magic” Johnson continues to be one of the most influential former athletes despite his most recent ill-fated venture as the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has had multiple successful business investments throughout his post-basketball career that has netted him many hundreds of millions of dollars. He is the go-to post-retirement career success stories that athletes can look to in their own careers.
Estimated Net Worth: $650 Million
NBA Career: 1979 – 1992
He was the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft after a thrilling national title game against Larry Bird in what was an overarching theme in their careers. He was the model for the modern day “point forward” concept that several NBA teams have tried to replicate to varying degrees of success. Magic had a highly decorated career featuring five titles, three NBA Finals MVP awards, 12 All-Star teams, 10 time All-NBA teams, and was named on the NBA 50th Anniversary team. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Was part of the Dream Team. He defined the “Showtime” Lakers for many generations of basketball fans around the world.
Let’s just say that he has had a storied personal life as most people should know his story with HIV by now. Has three children (one son by prior marriage, one son with his current wife, and one adopted daughter). Has been married twice.
Post Career: From NBA Front Office to Business Mogul to NBA Executive Again
He was briefly the coach for the Lakers during the 1993-94 season but soon realized he wasn’t cut out for it and resigned (a reappearing theme during his Lakers tenure).
The iconoclast businessman has invested in nearly every type of business imaginable through his company, Magic Johnson Enterprises. Real estate, sports franchises, and restaurants are primary investments in his portfolio. He had a 4% stake in the Lakers but later sold it along with 100+ Starbucks franchises for a tidy profit over $100 million. He has ownership stakes in the Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), LAFC (MLS), and LA Sparks (WNBA).
In 2017, he was hired as the President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers after owner Jeanie Buss fired her brother Jim after a long unsuccessful run (by Lakers standards). He and current GM Rob Pelinka inherited coach Luke Walton from the prior regime.
On April 9, 2019, in a bizarre and impromptu press conference, Magic resigned from his post, citing a desire to return to being an NBA ambassador. He apparently decided to resign that morning without telling any of his superiors (the aforementioned Jeanie Buss) nor personnel working under him beforehand.
As an executive, Magic had a spotty record in terms of managing personnel.
Huge credit for the Lakers’ scouting staff. Drafting Kyle Kuzma with the pick that was traded for D’Angelo Russell. Kuzma looks like a star in the making alongside one LeBron James. Drafting Moe Wagner from Michigan. He looks to be a decent piece off the bench when healthy. Drafting former Villanova sharpshooter Josh Hart. Signing LeBron to a four-year deal without any options or outs (how good it is now can be debated in retrospect.)
He traded away most notably Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell due to his locker room incident. Russell has blossomed into an All-Star in a LeBron-less Eastern Conference. He let reliable forward Julius Randle go to the New Orleans Pelicans in free agency.
The rest of the Lakers roster. Namely, taking consistently injured and dramatic Lonzo Ball over the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum. Signing veterans that don’t fit what LeBron James is as a player.