When Earvin Johnson Jr. was given the moniker “Magic” as a high school basketball standout, he didn’t think it would stick. Flash forward 50 years, and he’s proven that he’s nothing short of magic. The NBA champion and CEO is telling his story his own way unlike ever before in his Apple TV+ docuseries, They Call Me Magic.
His four-part docuseries They Call Me Magic traces his life from childhood to LA Lakers gold. Magic’s charm and superhero skills on the court lauded him as one of America’s most beloved celebrities. He was able to combine professional sports with all-around entertainment, becoming a rock star of sorts in his own right.
After watching the 10-part docuseries 'The Last Dance' chronicling Michael Jordan and star players of the Chicago Bulls’ history-making run, Johnson says he too was ready to tell his story in full.
He told Shadow and Act in a recent interview, “People were blowing my phone up and saying, ‘Hey, Ervin, it’s time for you to do yours. We want to see yours next.’ So I turned to [my wife] Cookie and said, ‘Hey, I think it’s time for me to do mine. What do you think?’ She said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.’ And so here we are.”
Johnson was intentional about tracing his success back to his upbringing as a part of 11 brothers and sisters with his parents in Michigan.
In order to show the totality of who he is, including his close family and friends, was a no-brainer.
“I wanted to start with my life in Lansing, Michigan, [and take it] all the way back there and also have my parents and my brothers and sisters involved, as well my former teammates that I played with – whether that was in high school or that I grew up with back in Lansing or I played with Michigan State,” he said. “And I wanted to show how that game against Larry Bird and Indiana State is still the number one viewed college basketball game in history, in American history. So I want to go all the way back to present-day and show off me being a CEO and owning my own company.”
Johnson also discusses the shift he helped to create in professional basketball from being viewed as a bottom-of-the-barrel entity of professional sports to being the top contender. He laid the blueprint for multi-million dollar contract deals, endorsements, expanding one’s business profile outside of the game, and charitable efforts.
Of course, much of his charitable efforts began with his HIV diagnosis in 1991 which altered his life personally and professionally. But after becoming the face of the virus, unprecedented advancements in treatment were made possible.
Watch the full interview with Johnson above.