Magic Johnson exploring possibilities
LOS ANGELES -- The New Year could mean a new team for Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Johnson, attending his third Los Angeles Lakers game at Staples Center since selling his 4.5 percent share of the team on Oct. 18 to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said that a new ownership opportunity is not imminent.
"No updates," Johnson told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Just exploring, listening. Nothing is going to happen, if I decide anything is going to happen, until after the first of the year."
Johnson kept a low profile at the last two Lakers games he attended following the sale of his Lakers interest and the 105 Starbucks coffeehouse franchises that he sold back to the company for a reported $75 million. Rather than heading straight to his luxury suite Tuesday he made himself available to reporters after speaking to the Minnesota Timberwolves before the game as a favor to former teammate and current Wolves head coach Kurt Rambis.
Johnson has been linked to potential ownership groups in both the NFL and the NBA but insisted Tuesday, "nothing ranks higher, either league."
"I want to definitely be a part of the NFL because I love the game, so, if it comes back to L.A., I want to be a part of it," Johnson said. "Now, the NBA, I'm a basketball player. I'm a basketball man. That's a natural thing for me. So, is it something right now? No. Is it something with possibilities? Of course."
Johnson told the Los Angeles Times last month that he met with the group that recently purchased the Golden State Warriors but nothing came of the meeting and that he plans on speaking to Mike Ilitch, who already owns the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, about joining forces to purchase Johnson's hometown Pistons.
Johnson has also expressed interest in following tennis' Williams sisters, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Fergie and Marc Anthony by joining Miami Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross as a limited partner should his attempt at bringing the NFL to L.A. falls through.
But Johnson made it clear that he is not currently in negotiations about any potential purchase of a sports franchise in any league.
"We just have to see what happens but I haven't had any discussions with anybody since I sold," Johnson said. "There's going to be possibilities for us, endless, and so I just have to wait and see, weigh all the options and then take it from there."
For the time being, he is relishing his continued role with the Lakers as they attempt to capture a three-peat championship that would give Kobe Bryant a sixth ring, eclipsing the five Johnson won as a player in L.A.
"Not that I'm ready to go anywhere because I love still being vice president of the Lakers," Johnson said. "Larry [my brother] will tell you I go crazy every time we watch the games. It hasn't changed for me. I'm still a part of it. I still talk to [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and I just talked to the players the other day. It's not like I'm looking for an opportunity. If something comes up that I like, I'll do it. If it doesn't, I'm still good."
Johnson spoke to the team last week as a part of the Lakers' annual "Business of Basketball" meeting and stressed the importance of players managing their money to prepare for a career post-NBA.
Kupchak said he appreciated Johnson's continued presence around the team and added, "For me, he's been a huge supporter."
"When we had a couple of down years he'd call a couple of times a week," Kupchak said. "Not to make suggestions or to vent. He called to be supportive. Normally you don't get that many calls when things aren't going well.
"Our relationship's not going to change now, but we kind of giggled and laughed about how he's not one of my bosses as an owner anymore."
Johnson said that Michael Jordan's purchase of the Charlotte Bobcats, a longtime friendly rival of Johnson's, had nothing to do with his competitive side influencing his recent business decisions.
"I don't do things because somebody else does things, that's not my style," Johnson said. "I love what I do, I love being part of the Lakers, I love living here. If something comes up where it's great, not just the team but also a great business opportunity too, then I'll look at it and do it. But, just to be a part of another organization when you're [already with] the Lakers, you're not going to just do that. That's not the way I do things. So, we have to wait and see. But, I'm encouraged about hopefully being a part of the NFL and we'll see what happens."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.