Magic Johnson delivers another assist in Commanders purchase


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Magic Johnson has racked up another victory and dished out another big assist in his post-basketball career as a prolific sports team owner.

The Hall of Fame point guard and Los Angeles Lakers great is part of the ownership group that reached an agreement in principle Thursday to purchase the NFL’s Washington Commanders from Dan Snyder for $6.05 billion, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been finalized.

Johnson is the most famous face in the Commanders group, which gets most of its financial backing from billionaire Josh Harris. It’s a familiar role for Johnson, who also owns minority stakes in baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

Decades after his remarkable career as a brilliant player and leader for the Lakers, Johnson is a valuable teammate in the even more rarefied world of sports high finance.

Sports teams typically don’t disclose the ownership percentages in their groups, but Johnson isn’t the majority owner in any of his teams. While Magic is a significant financial participant, billionaires value Johnson for his expertise in the nuances of such complicated deals – and for serving as a charismatic, familiar persona to put on the transaction for fans and media.

Johnson only joined Harris’ group last month, but his name was in headlines around the world when the agreement was reached.

Johnson’s spokesperson in Los Angeles didn’t return a request for comment on the potential sale. Harris and the NFL also didn’t comment on the in-progress deal.

Beyond his playing riches, Johnson is a wealthy businessman from an impressive career in entertainment, retail ventures and real estate development. He got into sports ownership in 1994 when Lakers owner Jerry Buss sold a stake to Johnson, who credits Buss with mentoring him in both business and life.

Johnson took another step into the highest realms of sports in 2012 when he joined a deal with some similarities to the Commanders sale.

Johnson was out front in the Guggenheim Partners group backed by billionaire Mark Walter when it bought the Dodgers, another beloved franchise with a rich history and a troubled, unpopular incumbent owner (Frank McCourt) who clearly had mixed feelings about selling.

The Guggenheim group then bought the Sparks in early 2014, and Johnson joined the massive ownership group behind LAFC later that year.

Johnson sold his stake in the Lakers in 2010 to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, but he served as their president of basketball operations from 2017 to 2019, when he abruptly quit after deciding he was having more fun as an owner than an executive.

Johnson was also part of Harris’ failed bid to purchase the Denver Broncos last year.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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