On a lazy Saturday afternoon at the campus of Loyola Marymount University, the Los Angeles Times hosted an event featuring a sit down interview with Los Angeles Lakers legend, Magic Johnson. The event had the feeling of an episode of Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton, as it took place inside the Gersten Pavilion and was hosted by the Time’s follically-challenged, Lipton look-a-like, Bill Plaschke.
As hundreds of fans found their way to their seats, they all waited in anticipation of the arrival of the Magic Man, with many fans wearing vintage championship shirts from the 87-88 years and many more of them wearing Magic’s number 32 jersey. Sitting with the fans, you can see the years roll off their sleeves as they laugh and remember the good times with their buddies as highlights from the Showtime era scroll across the screen.
Once Magic arrived, the electricity was back in the air and everyone leaned forward to hear what he had to say. Plaschke asked about Bird, Showtime, Game 6, the Baby Hook, the Dream Team and his fight with HIV. I’m sure if you’re reading this story during this time of the year, you’re a passionate Lakers fan who has already seen the HBO specials, read the biographies and can recite all the DVDs of all the details from those moments, so I won’t go into detail about that.
But I do want to share with you some new things that I learned about my favorite basketball player of all time:
1. Favorite drink at Starbucks
As the former owner of over 100 Starbuck Franchises, the leading coffee franchise in the world, it’s interesting to know that Magic is a big tea person and prefers to order herbal tea any time he visits one of his locations. Of course, Plaschke asks about which name they write on Magic’s cup, where Magic jokingly says “Boss!”
2. Never mess with Magic’s popcorn
Along with the Starbucks, Fat Burgers and 24 Hour Fitness locations he owned, Magic also launched some movie theaters which he creatively called “Magic Johnson Theaters.” Magic revealed that when he was growing up, he was one of ten children, so when their mom took the kids out to watch a movie, she would regulate the children by only allowing them one purchase each. Magic would always team up with his brothers or sisters, so that one would buy the soda and the other would buy the popcorn, so they can have the best of both worlds. This is probably where he got his knack for sharing the ball, but I digress.
So, the point of the story was to tell the audience that now that he can afford a bag of popcorn for himself, he refuses to share, even with his wife Cookie. As Magic said, “if you wanted some popcorn, I’d be glad to buy her some!”
3. How he knew Cookie was the One
First, the pick up line was classic – “I’ve got to know you. you fit in them jeans so well.” Next, Magic took Cookie out on a date and as the night was getting late, Cookie thought the date was coming to an end, but Magic told her that he’s not going to sleep yet. Magic told her that if she wants to see him again, she go change and rebound for him at midnight. When she showed up and shagged those missed shots, Magic knew she was the one for him.
4. The best basketball move Magic has ever seen that I guarantee 99% of you never saw
5. What made Magic push so hard to survive for the last 20 years
When Magic announced that he had HIV almost 20 years ago on Nov 7, 1991, all the experts at the time didn’t give him that much time to live. Magic had other plans, so he asks his doctor, “How can I beat this?” and the doctor tells him:
- Take your Meds
- Have a Positive Attitude
- Work out