Magic Johnson is a Los Angeles icon, but New York City still has a special place in his heart.
The NBA legend, in the city last week for an event, shared his most memorable moments on and off the court in the Big Apple. He told amNewYork that playing the majority of his 13-year professional career — all with the Los Angeles Lakers — alongside fellow Hall of Famer and NYC native Kareem Abdul-Jabbar helped make cross-country games against the New York Knicks more "special," especially in his early visits to Madison Square Garden.
“Seeing how excited the fans were [was memorable], and also Kareem was coming home to play,” said Johnson, who attended an event hosted by media mogul Jason Binn to celebrate the release of the book “Aiming High” by best-selling author and friend Darren Prince. “Every trip I made to New York to play in the Garden, I just wanted to win not only for the Lakers but for Kareem coming home. New York is special. It’s the mecca.”
Johnson, who has matched his on-court success as a successful entrepreneur, also discussed his business triumphs in the city.
“[My top accomplishments] off the court are building Magic Johnson Theatre on 125th in Harlem, bringing the Starbucks to Harlem, all of the Starbucks in Brooklyn, buying the Williamsburgh [Savings Bank Tower] in Brooklyn, all those types of things I’m really proud of and will continue to be proud of,” Johnson said.
Magic, who last year took charge of rebuilding the Lakers as president of basketball operations, also dished on the reasons LeBron James joined the team this offseason after spending his first 15 NBA seasons in the Eastern Conference.
“Well first of all, I think it was the Lakers brand, and then he knew that we had some really good young players. That’s probably first,” Johnson said of the four-time league MVP. “Second of all, then I could help him, become a mentor to him for the things he wants to do on the court and off the court. He’s doing a great job with his businesses. I’m proud of him. Any advice, anything he needs, I’m here for him.”