When Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls captured their first NBA title in the 1990-91 season defeating Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, the two superstars shared a special moment behind closed doors. During that impromptu meeting, Jordan cried, relieved he had finally won his first title. While the pair hugged, Johnson congratulated his younger counterpart and at the same time passed on the torch to the single player who would become the greatest in basketball history.
Years later in retirement, the Hall of Famers and great friends can fondly reflect back and see, in addition to all their many achievements on the court, both have been as successful off the court and become titans of business.
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan rivals on the court
The Last Dance documentary provided a detailed timeline of Michael Jordan and the Bulls dynasty that began in the 1991 season, when the Bulls took down Magic Johnson and Lakers, and finished in the 1997-98 season with Chicago capturing its sixth title in eight years.
Before Jordan and the Bulls reigned supreme in the NBA, it was Johnson and the Lakers who were the dominant team in the 1980s, winning five NBA titles (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988). Much like Jordan, Johnson was the leader of a star-studded Lakers Showtime squad that included future Hall of Famers James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In their five titles in the 1980s, Johnson earned three Finals MVPs.
The two stars bond on the Dream Team
After the Bulls repeated in the 1991-92 season, Jordan and Johnson had a chance to put aside their rivalry on the court when they became teammates for the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, the Dream Team. In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, Johnson said the pair’s time in Barcelona allowed them to bond.
“I think on the court we were great rivals, but at the same time we loved each other, especially when we had that special moment with the Dream Team, and we were both able to play with each other and represent our country and win the gold medal.”Magic Johnson
That was also the same time Johnson had stepped away from the NBA game following his HIV diagnosis. The time in Barcelona not only allowed Johnson a chance to return to the game, but it also provided him with an opportunity to prove his diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence, while at the same time, allowing his teammates show HIV wasn’t something for the general public to fear.
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan both successful in business
When Jordan retired in 2002, Magic Johnson already had a six-year head start as a businessman. In that time and since, Johnson has been diverse in building a business empire that includes investments in real estate, restaurants, and movie chains. Johnson reportedly has a net worth of $600 million.
While Johnson has done quite well in business, Jordan, like his days on the court, has passed the Lakers star in the business world. His deal with Nike, which he signed as a rookie, pays him an astonishing $130 million annually. Jordan also has a diverse business portfolio; his largest investment as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan’s net worth is reportedly $2.2 billion.
Johnson said their similar career paths in basketball and now in business have only drawn the pair closer together. He said watching The Last Dance documentary was something he really enjoyed, but more importantly, he thinks the nation enjoyed it and it came at a much needed time.
“The country needed something to look forward to and it gave us all these thrills and it took us back and took us forward. And I’m glad a lot of kids got a chance to see what made Michael the GOAT and made him so special.”
While Jordan is the GOAT, there is no denying Magic Johnson will always be remembered as one of the game’s greatest players and one of the most successful former athletes to succeed in the world of business. Just like his friend.