On the heels of Sept. 17’s season two finale of HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, fans were shocked to learn that the series had been canceled. Others, like Magic Johnson, were unfazed.
“Well, I never watched it because nobody in this world can tell the Lakers story [like it needed to be told]. The Showtime story? Nobody! Dr. Buss was way ahead of his time as an owner. Our team? Unbelievable! The Laker girls with Paula Abdul? Unbelievable! Nobody can tell that story,” the NBA great told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday night when asked about it on the red carpet at the Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS. “So, none of us watched it because it was fictional. You just can’t tell that story. But, hey, that’s on them.”
Based on Jeff Pearlman’s book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers, Winning Time chronicled the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties. Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht co-created the series, which starred John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Quincy Isaiah as Johnson, Jason Clarke as Jerry West, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley, Sally Field as Jeanie Buss, Dr. Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jason Segel as Paul Westhead, DeVaughn Nixon as Norm Nixon, Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper, and Sean Patrick Small as Larry Bird, among others.
As for whether Johnson would tackle his own life story in a narrative format, he told THR that he’s open to it. “If I do, I got two of the biggest friends in the business, [Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson],” he said while Jackson stood over his shoulder at the event. “So, if I ever do it, it would be with one of my friends because they already know me. We’ll see.”
Johnson was already the subject of the four-part Apple TV+ documentary series They Call Me Magic. But if he never gets around to the movie or limited series version of his life story, no one could fault him for that, as the 64-year-old has his hands full on the business front. Johnson, chairman and CEO of investment conglomerate Magic Johnson Enterprises, is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, co-owner the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club and eSports franchise Team Liquid. He also has controlling interests in EquiTrust, a multibillion-dollar financial services company, and SodexoMAGIC, a food service and facilities management company, among other interests.
Earlier this year, he became one of the co-owners of the Washington Commanders. “I am thrilled that I am an NFL owner and to be able to break down some of those barriers where minorities hadn’t been,” Johnson continued at Thursday’s event. He credited his partners, led by Josh Harris, and said that beyond being among a handful of Black NFL team owners, the decision to invest in another professional sports team made financial sense. “I also love football and it’s a great investment. The upside is good.”