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Magic Johnson

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Earvin Johnson
(Magic)

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Earvin "Magic" Johnson is one of the greatest players in the history of the National Basketball Association. In 2012, he became the best-known figure in the group that made the successful bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Born in Lansing, MI, Johnson was a star basketball player from his high school days. At Michigan State University, he led a team which upset Indiana State University, led by Larry Bird, in the finals of the 1979 NCAA Tournament. Both Johnson and Bird became major stars in college, and would continue to shine in the professional ranks, leading to a huge growth in the popularity of the NBA (Michael Jordan, who was a couple of years younger, was the third marquee star that defined that era). He was drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 draft, and then led the Lakers to five championships over the next decade, cultivating a tremendous rivalry between his Lakers and the Bird-led Boston Celtics (before Jordan's Chicago Bulls eclipsed both teams). He was the NBA's Most Valuable Player on three occasions, and a 12-time All-Star.

On November 7, 1991, Johnson shocked the sports world when he announced that he had tested positive for HIV and was retiring from basketball immediately. Anything linked to AIDS was still considered a short-term death sentence at the time, as the disease had recently claimed the life of tennis star Arthur Ashe, who had contracted it through a blood transfusion. Johnson said he would dedicate the rest of his life to "battle this deadly disease". He did indeed become a spokesman for infected persons, and a living demonstration that one could be a highly productive member of society in spite of HIV infection, giving inspiration to countless sufferers. In spite of his retirement, he was voted to start the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, and he had a legendary day, winning the game's MVP award. He was then part of the so-called "Dream Team" of NBA superstars that won gold for the United States at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, the first time professionals were allowed to play in the Olympics. He later became a coach, and returned to play one more season with the Lakers in 1994-95, after which he retired "on his own terms".

After his retirement, he worked in the entertainment industry, including as a basketball analyst for ESPN, and became a highly successful businessman. He became a minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and team Vice-President in 1994. He sold his shares in 2010.

In late 2011, Johnson's name emerged for the first time in a baseball context when he was named as one of the key members of a group bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt through a process supervised by a bankruptcy court judge. At first, his name was considered a bit of a curiosity among the 20 groups, many of which included prominent baseball figures, but "Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC" proved to be the group with the deepest pockets. In addition to Johnson, other prominent investors included Mark R. Walter as the controlling partner, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. On March 27, 2012, it was announced that the group had won the bidding with a proposal totaling $2 billion, with an additional $150 million for land around Dodger Stadium; it was the highest price ever paid for a North American professional sports franchise. While Walter was the principal owner, Johnson was seen as the public face of the group, with Kasten the principal baseball mind.

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