Magic Johnson Sells Ownership Stake in Los Angeles Lakers
Johnson sold his stake in the Lakers to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, an accomplished businessman, prominent UCLA surgeon and Lakers season-ticket holder for 25 years, for an undisclosed sum, the team announced Monday. Johnson, who was believed to own as much 10 percent of the team, purchased his share in 1994 for a reported $10 million.
Update: Magic Johnson Could Bring NFL to Los Angeles
(Update: According to the Los Angeles Times, Johnson owned a 4.5 percent stake in the Lakers, and sold his shares for an estimated $27 million.)
Johnson's motivations for selling his share of the franchise were not revealed, but now that he's done so, he's free to acquire a stake in another NBA franchise. Johnson, a native of Lansing, Mich., has previously admitted interest in having a role with the Detroit Pistons.
"After heavy deliberation and a weighing heart, I have decided to sell my share of the Lakers to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong," Johnson said in a statement released by the team. "Dr. Soon-Shiong is a super Lakers fan, an outstanding businessman, a dedicated philanthropist and one of the most active community leaders in Los Angeles
"I am truly humbled to have been a Lakers player for 13 years and an owner for over 10 years. I thank 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. 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."
Despite Johnson's proclamation to being a "Laker for life," it's at least possible this transaction was motivated by a desire to acquire partial ownership of his home state Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are currently owned by Karen Davidson, who is in the process of selling the franchise to Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.
"Somebody back there has to be the majority owner. Be the owner," Johnson said in August about potentially having a role with the Pistons. "That wouldn't be me. But if Ilitch or somebody -- you've got a good guy back there already in (team president) Joe Dumars. If somebody said, 'Hey, can you come and think about helping Joe Dumars?' then I would think about it.
"Just like the Lakers. It's not the full (ownership). You just get a little piece. But then you are involved in the basketball, how the decisions are made."
Lakers majority owner Dr. Jerry Buss thanked Johnson for his service to the Lakers in the team's official statement: "The sale of Earvin's share of the team is a business decision which will not change our relationship. Our friendship goes well beyond business. Patrick is a long-time and passionate Lakers fan and we are delighted to have him as a partner."
Dr. Soon-Shiong also thanked Johnson for the opportunity to purchase a stake in the storied franchise.
"It is an honor for me to be part of the Lakers family and the nation's foremost basketball franchise," said Soon-Shiong. "The Lakers' leadership and spirit of community engendered by Dr. Jerry Buss and his family is an inspiration to us all. Our family looks forward to a future filled with the excitement this team brings to the city and the nation. Earvin Johnson is a shining example of excellence on and off the court, and it is a privilege to have acquired his ownership position."