LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – In a surprising decision, the Los Angeles Lakers named legend Magic Johnson their president of basketball operations Tuesday.
Magic replaces co-owner Jim Buss, who had been serving as executive vice president of basketball operations. The move was welcomed by many fans, who hope that the Laker great will transfer his success in business to the Lakers organization.
Johnny Foster, who grew up in Baldwin Hills, says Magic helped transform his neighborhood, investing part of his fortune there when many others would not. One of his most famous properties was his Magic Johnson Theater, which he has since sold.
“Yes, he’s given back to this community,” Foster told KCAL9.
Johnson’s foray into business has earned him hundreds of millions of dollars. His investments include non-profits such as the Magic Johnson Foundation devoted to help cure HIV/AIDS.
“He’s ‘Show Time,’ he has the personality, he has the business acumen,” said David Nusbaum with the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Nusbaum says Johnson can command a room seamlessly.
“Everyone knows that Magic is in the room. Everyone sees him. He’s able to draw out the best in his teammates, the best in the people he’s working with. He’s a presence.”
Along with opening the Magic Johnson Theater in Baldwin Hills, Johnson also brought development to South Los Angeles.
“He was able to get a franchisee agreement with Starbucks so he could put stores in locations that weren’t traditionally targeted by Starbucks,” Nusbaum said.
Nusbaum believes Johnson should also be credited with helping to pave the way for the new football stadium being built in Inglewood.
In January, the Lakers brought Johnson back into the fold by naming him an adviser to team ownership. Johnson has said he expects a Lakers rebuild to take somewhere between three and five years.
“It’s going to take three to five years to get them back and rolling again,” he said last week. “You have to develop your own players. You have to make sure you hit a home run when you draft.”