NEW YORK (AP) — Magic Johnson’s love for his Los Angeles Lakers has kept him from considering ownership of any other NBA team.
The New York Knicks would be the one franchise that could make him have second thoughts.
“I think it would be intriguing,” Johnson said Tuesday. “The only team I would actually probably think about is the New York Knicks.”
Johnson arrived in New York for a speaking engagement at a YMCA from Washington, where the member of the Commanders’ new ownership group watched his NFL team lose to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Once back in Los Angeles, he will gear up for his Dodgers to begin play in baseball’s postseason. But the basketball Hall of Famer repeatedly has passed on opportunities for ownership in the sport he knows best.
Johnson named the Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks as teams he turned down, rather than find himself in competition with the Lakers. The Knicks, though, offer something different.
“I think because of the way fans love basketball you might have to think about that one, because I love coming to New York and going to the Garden and watching the Knicks play,” Johnson said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I love being with fans who are so passionate about their team and the Knick fans are, and they’re smart. They’re smart basketball fans and so that one I would have to think about. I think that other than that, I would probably never think about ever being a part of another franchise.”
Johnson said he hasn’t spoken with Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman James Dolan about the idea and isn’t looking for an opportunity, content to watch the Lakers as a fan after serving as their president of basketball operations for two seasons before resigning in 2019.
But if the conversation did happen, Johnson would listen.
“That one you would really have to think about, in terms of being a minority owner of that team,” he said. “But other than that, I would just stay with the Lakers and even with my role now, just being a fan, I’m happy just doing that with the Lakers because, again, I bleed purple and gold.”
Johnson, who was in charge when the Lakers signed LeBron James, believes they can play for a second NBA title in five years.
“I think they’re going to be the best team in the West this year,” Johnson said.
Johnson, 64, had to retire as a Lakers player in 1991 after contracting HIV. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern allowed him to return and play in the 1992 All-Star Game, a decision Johnson believes helped encourage and educate people in the fight against AIDS.
He remains a passionate advocate for health education and on Tuesday led a discussion about the risks of RSV, a contagious virus affecting the lungs and breathing passages that causes an estimated 14,000 deaths annually in adults 65 and over.
“I’ve always talked about, whether it was HIV, AIDS and now RSV, it’s really important that I come to the people,” he said of the “ Sideline RSV ” campaign from GSK, formerly known as GlaxoSmithKline. “It’s one thing to do a commercial, it’s another thing to be live and in person and shake people’s hands and really tell them: ‘Look, get your physicals. If you’re feeling something, go to the doctor,’ because a lot of times what happens, we don’t go when we first feel something, right, and RSV, you can be a healthy person and don’t even know you have it.”
Johnson told the audience that early detection helped him when he was infected with HIV. He said he gets a physical every January and receives recommended vaccinations, with one for RSV now available.
“I’m trying to be here for a long time,” he said, “so sign a brother up.”
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