Los Angeles Dodgers Co-Owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, right, poses with his wife Cookie Johnson, left, at a Dodgers game. (Courtesy of Instagram @MagicJohnson)
By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO
Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have captured the 2020 MLB World Series, it is safe to label Earvin “Magic” Johnson as perhaps the most successful Black executive in the sports world right now.
The NBA Hall of Famer made his mark as one of the most legendary basketball players of all time. Off the court, he’s been a well-established entrepreneur for more than 30 years. In the past decade, Johnson has quickly climbed the executive ranks of the professional sports industry.
Along with the likes of Charlotte Hornets Owner Michael Jordan, Washington Football Team President Jason Wright and Mayweather Promotions President Floyd Mayweather, Johnson is among a distinguished group of burgeoning Black sports figures.
As expected, the five-time NBA champ was elated after the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to claim its first World Series since 1988.
“I want to thank @Dodgers Chairman, Owner, & my great friend Mark Walter for allowing me to be one of the owners of this incredible team. This is what we talked about eight years ago when we bought the team. We wanted to win the World Series & tonight our dream came true!!” Johnson tweeted shortly after the Dodgers’ World Series win on Oct. 27.
“I know God is sooooooooo good because now I have a World Series ring, 10 Lakers NBA Championship Rings (five as a player and five as an owner), and a WNBA Championship Ring as owner of the LA Sparks!”
As aforementioned, Johnson’s latest accolade comes after a decorated 13-year NBA career in which he starred as a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers and led the franchise to five championships. He has been a co-owner of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks since 2014, and the team won a league title in 2016.
In addition to spending two years as president of basketball operations with the Los Angeles Lakers (2017-2019), the Michigan native co-owns the Los Angeles Football Club (Major League Soccer).
Johnson’s steady ascension in the corporate world is overwhelming proof that Black American athletes can do much more than “shut up and dribble.”
When Black athletes started participating in mainstream professional sports, they have always had the expectation of exhibiting the best of their abilities on the field, court ring or what have you.
For far too long, transcendent Black athletes have packed out stadiums and arenas, been responsible for record-breaking ticket sales, and boosted television ratings, thus generating billions of dollars in the pro sports industry.
However, individuals such as Johnson, with his expanding business portfolio, and hip-hop icon Ice Cube, who co-founded an intriguing basketball league known as “Big3,” have proven that Black sports ownership is on the rise and that Black influence is a pivotal part of what drives sports culture.
Johnson, who made history as the first Black owner of a Major League Baseball franchise, has already achieved his goal with the Dodgers in less than a decade into his position with the team.
In a 2012 interview with ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon, Johnson said he thought of MLB trailblazer Jackie Robinson when his ownership group initially struck the deal with the Dodgers, a storied baseball club.
“I will definitely work tirelessly to make sure that I do everything in my power to represent him (Robinson) as a man, and represent African Americans but also represent owners,” Johnson said in the ESPN interview.
“This was the next move for me, was to get into ownership. I didn’t know it was going to be baseball, but I’m happy it is.”