Magic remembers Buss as ‘second father’
by Rachel Shuster, USA TODAY Sports
Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979, drafted by owner Jack Kent Cooke. Johnson later learned among the reasons he was taken — his selection by Cooke was part of the agreement for the impending sale of the Lakers to Jerry Buss.
Buss, who passed away early Monday, took the 19-year-old Michigan State player under his wing, and the two enjoyed success immediately with an NBA championship that first season together.
“Dr. Buss was just a fun-loving guy. He was very intelligent, he studied history, he could quote things. But the man was very competitive, as well,” Johnson, now an ESPN NBA analyst, said on the network Monday. “He wanted to win championships. He brought all of us in to do that … and at the same time he wanted to be friends to the players.”
Johnson said Buss was a businessman, an entertainer, a visionary — and to him, a very close friend. And more.
“He gave us everything we needed to win a championship,” Johnson said. “We stayed atthe best hotels, we had the best trainers, we had the best equipment. … And sure enough, we were able to win the championship my first year, his first year. We were both rookies the same time. …
“But he actually became my second father. He actually took me in. He took me to my first USC football game. We went every Saturday that they played at home.”
Buss understood the youngster felt out of place, at first, coming from Michigan to the fast lane in Los Angeles. So, they hung out together.
“We played pool. That was our favorite thing to do,” Johnson said. “He took me to Las Vegas. We hung out. Last but not least, he taught me the Laker business.”
When his playing days were over, Johnson went on to own movie theaters and many businesses and contribute to numerous charitable organizations — and become a part owner of the Lakers.
“He allowed me to look at the books. He took me through the books. That’s the reason I’m a businessman today, because of Dr. Buss. He allowed me to buy into … [For more on Magic Johnson remembers Jerry Buss as 'second father', click here.]