Growing up in the golden age of basketball, it’s impossible to forget the excitement that two college kids from the Midwest were creating, and it started with two superstars: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Their rivalry was one of the most memorable in the history of the NBA and perhaps in all of the basketball. It started in the 1979 NCAA Basketball Championship Game, which is still the largest television rated basketball championship to date, with 35 million viewers (NCAA Men’s Final Four Ratings Hub, 2018).
It was inevitable that these superstars would end up on two of the most celebrated championship teams in NBA history. As predicted, Bird’s career ended with 3 NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal; Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson’s basketball career ended with five NBA championships, one NCAA championship and one gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. Johnson’s success was not limited to just the basketball court, though.
Once Magic finally retired, he turned his focus on being an entrepreneur.
In doing so, he quickly found that winning championships on the basketball court held very little clout in the business world as he began contacting potential investors to launch his proposed business ventures. Johnson’s dream was to develop and invest in urban areas, creating jobs and economic growth in those communities, and he didn’t let the initial discouragement stop him from achieving this. The determination and passion that he developed through becoming a Hall of Fame basketball player did carry over into the business world, as he never gave up on his dream and did what it took to become an extremely successful businessman and CEO of his own company.
Definition of an entrepreneur has a general consensus as a person who “organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” (Merriam-Webster, 2018). Johnson had to overcome struggles when beginning his company, learned from his parents, and carried core values and traits with him into the business world. He was able to establish his company after retiring from basketball and it eventually became wildly successful. Magic Johnson Enterprises has numerous partnerships with multi-million dollar companies and franchises and operates on a core goal of developing underserved urban communities.
Magic was born in Michigan to a very large family and the value of hard work was instilled in him at a young age. His parents often had to work multiple jobs, and he saw firsthand the struggles of American families in making ends meet. This eventually would inspire his entrepreneurial work. Johnson worked very hard as a young adult and went on to play collegiate and professional basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a very accomplished basketball player, and after receiving a diagnosis of being HIV positive, he decided to retire from basketball and focus on other endeavors, such as forming a foundation to fund HIV research and awareness, and on his business interests of becoming an investor and making change in the lives of people that struggle, just as his family did.
Johnson faced problems from the very beginning of his business ventures; he had difficult time finding investors that would not only take him seriously, as more than a basketball player, but also convincing said investors that he had a viable, concrete business plan that they should trust him with. Most investors saw little potential in the markets that he was interested in. Once establishing investors and business partners, there were critics that said he didn’t have enough personal stake in the projects, and there were the natural fluctuations in consumers’ interests and within the nation’s economy as a whole. Johnson has never given up, and has only used his leadership and hard-work that made him the phenomenal basketball player that he was to continue to advance his company and continue to be successful.
Magic Johnson Enterprises is now a billion dollar company that has become a business powerhouse and continues to carry out Johnson’s mission of investing in undeserved communities to make positive change. MJE has partnerships with massive companies like Starbucks, Burger King, Best Buy, and has established other companies of its own, such as Bridgescape– an educational program that has developed schools for kids and teenagers in urban areas. Johnson also works to inspire and encourage others to take the risk he did in investing in these types of communities, because they do indeed have endless potential, contrary to popular belief. Johnson and his franchise, Magic Johnson Enterprises, are a prime example of taking a risk as an entrepreneur in order to achieve a massive benefit.
Today, Magic Johnson is not known as just a basketball player– he is known as an entrepreneur that has worked hard to invest in and advance urban undeserved communities. Through learning the ins and outs of the business world, Johnson has become a model investor and entrepreneur and has demonstrated the ways that leadership and determination can be multi-faceted. An extremely successful entrepreneur, Johnson has been fortunate enough to not only do well, but more importantly– to do good.