Former L.A. Lakers basketball player turned business mogul Magic Johnson is returning to the basketball game, this time as team owner. He is part of a group buying the Los Angeles Sparks, a WNBA franchise.
“When Magic chooses to enter into a partnership with a WNBA team, that’s a great thing,” WNBA President Laurel Richie told The Associated Press. “He’s a legend within basketball. He’s very knowledgeable about the game. He’s a larger-than-life personality. Hes an extremely successful businessman. He cares about the community the way that the WNBA does.”
This isn’t Johnson’s first sports team. In 2012, he and a group of investors bought baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers for a whopping $2.15 billion. Most of the investors in this same group (minus Hollywood producer Peter Guber) will buy the Sparks, reports The Huffington Post. And, Johnson was a part owner of the Lakers for ten years before he sold his share in 2011.
But can Johnson and friends turn the team into a profitable franchise? Previous owner Paula Madison, who bought the team in 2007, told the AP that her family has lost $12 million; this includes $1.4 million last season.
The team does have a good record and is considered one of the best WNBA teams. They won titles in 2001 and 2002 and made it to the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. They were knocked out in the opening round by Phoenix last season, reports HuffPo.
“I do know they were very attracted to this team not just because they were in L.A. and their incredible history, but also their performance over the last few years,” Richie said.