Calling it a “bittersweet business decision,” Los Angeles Lakers part-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson sold his share of the team for an undisclosed amount, he and the Lakers announced today.
“I am truly humbled to have been a Lakers player for 13 years and an owner for over 10 years,” Johnson said in a statement released by the team. “I thank Dr. (Jerry) 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,” he said. “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.”
Johnson sold his share of the team to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and professor of microbiology, immunology, molecular genetics and bioengineering at UCLA. Soon-Shiong, who has been a Lakers season-ticket holder for more than 25 years, is also chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, chairman and CEO of All About Advanced Health and founder of the National Coalition for Health Integration.
“It is an honor for me to be part of the Lakers family and the nation’s foremost basketball franchise,” Soon-Shiong said. “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.”
Buss, the Lakers’ majority owner, said Johnson’s sale of his share of the team “will not change our relationship,” noting that “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,” Buss added.
Johnson, 51, was drafted by the Lakers as the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft. During his 13 years with the team, the Lakers won five championships and went to the NBA finals nine times. He was a 12-time all star and was named NBA most-valuable player in 1987, 1989 and 1990.
Johnson retired from the NBA in 1991, announcing that he had tested positive for HIV. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.