Magic Johnson on his Amazon Small Business partnership, the NBA bubble

  • Magic Johnson spoke to Business Insider about partnering with Amazon on an initiative to help small companies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the interview, Johnson additionally mirrored at size on the NBA bubble, giving his take on the bubble’s execution and gameplay, and the legacy of LeBron James. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

Adding to his historical past of entrepreneurial and philanthropic work, Earvin “Magic” Johnson partnered with Amazon earlier this month in promotion of the on-line retail large’s new small enterprise initiative, “Amazon Small Business.” 

Johnson, the NBA Hall of Famer and founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, spoke to Business Insider in a telephone interview this week about the Amazon partnership and his collected efforts to help small companies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since May, Johnson has pledged to donate a complete of $325 million in loans to minority-owned small companies by his life insurance coverage firm, EquiTrust. His partnership with Amazon concerned the launch of a vacation “gift guide” earlier this month, which featured a curated listing of merchandise from small companies.

Later in the interview, Johnson mirrored at size on the 2019-2020 NBA season’s continuation in a bubble. Noting that the bubble resulted in zero constructive coronavirus circumstances, Johnson recommended its “sensational” execution and gameplay. He additionally mentioned the plight of these in the bubble, echoing a current Los Angeles Times report that shed mild on the “strains” of the endeavor for gamers, and he gave his perspective on the legacy of LeBron James in the wake of James’ fourth championship win.  

This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed for readability.

How did this partnership with Amazon come collectively?

Well, when you concentrate on Amazon and you concentrate on Magic Johnson Enterprises, we wish the similar kind of success for the nation, for small enterprise homeowners. And we’re aligned with one another in terms of serving to these small companies. Both of us have been doing it for a very long time with out one another. It was a no brainer for us to come back collectively and attempt to assist these small, unimaginable companies by not solely driving prospects to their product, but in addition driving new prospects. Especially in a time like now, proper earlier than the holidays.

Amazon is such an enormous and unimaginable firm. We’re an enormous little firm, and, each of our manufacturers, we at all times communicate to the buyer, and we communicate to the neighborhood. So for us to come back collectively, it was simple. We need to make a distinction in these small enterprise homeowners’ corporations, and we need to make a distinction in folks’s lives that we already serve, whether or not it is simply Amazon by themselves and Magic Johnson Enterprises. But by coming collectively, we are able to ship a loud, clear message that we actually help small companies.

You’re a longtime entrepreneur. How has your historical past on that entrance knowledgeable you of the plight of small companies over time?

You have to recollect, I used to be a kind of guys, you realize. I have been a small enterprise proprietor for a very long time. I’ve grown to be an enormous enterprise proprietor, however I used to be as soon as considered one of them. I perceive what all of them are striving for, which is progress. Sustainability. How can they entice new prospects. See, I have been by that, so I do know it. Amazon understands that as effectively. Because the higher that they do, it is higher for Amazon, after which the higher that they do is healthier for me, particularly in the Black and Brown neighborhood.

We want these small enterprise homeowners to achieve success in order that they’ll hold their staff or they’ll add new staff. The extra people who find themselves working, the higher for city America and higher for our nation. So that is why Amazon and I need these small enterprise homeowners to win, as a result of it is essential for the communities that they do enterprise in.

Is there a product or firm on this information you have acquired right here that holds a selected significance for you, or one that you’d spotlight?

Yeah, Uncle Bud’s topical ache reduction. You know, while you get a little bit older, you want some assist [laughs]. Me understanding and all the pieces, I partnered with Uncle Bud’s, and I take advantage of their merchandise, particularly that topical ache reduction one as a result of I nonetheless work out quite a bit. It helps me with my joints, particularly my knees. After my exercise restoration, it is so essential. So I might say that one.


Uncle Bud’s Hemp

I did need to get into the NBA bubble if we may.


Last we spoke, I acquired your take at the begin of it, what you thought. I used to be questioning what you fabricated from the execution of it in the finish, the way it all got here collectively.

It was unimaginable. First, let’s thank commissioner Adam Silver for the job that he did in making a secure and wholesome atmosphere in the bubble down in Orlando, Florida. It was the smartest transfer. Then you gotta thank Michelle Roberts and Chris Paul from the gamers’ aspect, in addition to LeBron James, ‘trigger all of them actually partnered to be sure that it was going to be secure for the gamers, and likewise acquired the gamers to come back to the bubble. So LeBron and Chris Paul utilizing their voices was essential.

Thank Adam Silver for working with the medical doctors and scientists to place in the well being protocols in order that the gamers, in addition to the staff workers of each single staff was going to be secure and wholesome. And the testing was there each day. So you gotta give credit score then to each single staff, each single participant, teaching workers, proprietor, as a result of they adhered to the protocols and to the guidelines of the bubble. Because if they do not adhere to it, then we will get individuals who come down and can be constructive. That did not occur as a result of everyone purchased into it, everyone remained disciplined. And then, let’s speak about the play on the court docket.


The play on the court docket was a few of the finest basketball I’ve seen. That bubble created new stars. Jamal Murray was sensational. Donovan Mitchell, once they had that unimaginable battle between the two of them, they usually have been each scoring 50 factors. You know, that was superb to see that. We noticed Jayson Tatum breakout on the Boston Celtics. Then we get to the NBA finals, and who can we see go from a star to a celebrity? Jimmy Butler. Right? He was superb. Tyler Herro, scored 37 factors in the Eastern convention finals. He grew to become the second rookie when it comes to scoring that many factors in the NBA playoffs, second solely to some man who performed for the Lakers. I do not know his identify..

magic johnson rookie season

Magic Johnson in 1979, throughout his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

AP Images


[Laughs]. At the tender age of 20. We each have been 20. So when you concentrate on that, after which you concentrate on the play of Anthony Davis and LeBron James and the Lakers, it was simply superb. No constructive circumstances. And they have been there what, three or 4 months, 5 months, one thing like that. That was the superb a part of it, that they got here by. Everything was simply wonderful. The followers, all of us who have been at house, have been thrilled to see reside NBA basketball after which reside playoff basketball, which produced some superb reminiscences for all of us.

So job effectively executed, Adam Silver. Job effectively executed, Michelle Roberts of the NBA gamers affiliation. And job effectively executed each single participant. They ought to be recommended. And look what occurred: the MLB mentioned, we gon’ copy the NBA. They went to their very own bubble proper now for the playoffs. So they saved the groups secure and wholesome. And we’re beginning to see the NFL has acquired to resolve what they are going to do now, proper? They’re getting all these constructive circumstances proper now. So, NBA: Sensational job.

At the begin of the Finals, Scottie Pippen mentioned in an interview that he seen the bubble sport as “pickup basketball.” He had sort of a destructive view on it. From what you have mentioned, I gotta think about you thought the gameplay was one thing else totally.

Yeah, the play was superb. Listen, guys needed to sacrifice a lot. First of all, they needed to go away their households at house. Then they needed to eat issues that they usually was not accustomed to consuming. They did not get to eat what they needed. So all these items occurred in that bubble. And so for them to come back and play the approach they performed and the approach they carried out. Nah, man, it wasn’t pickup basketball. That was sensational basketball. You know, for the circumstances that they performed below. For them to come back able to play each night time. Hats off to each single staff and each single participant.

magic johnson lebron james

LeBron James and Magic Johnson on MTV’s “Total Request Live” in 2003.

Scott Gries/Getty Images

You know, you had an all-time stretch of excellence in the NBA. We’ve seen one other stretch like that with LeBron right here. How do you view LeBron’s longevity in relation to yours?

I view it as a person who, that is why he is the place he’s. In phrases of profitable now 4 championships and dominating basketball at a young age of what, 35, I feel it’s. For him, to me, to be the finest basketball participant nonetheless in the world. Also, he ought to have been the MVP of the league throughout the season. He was MVP of the NBA Finals. I imply, his taking good care of his physique, his focus, his drive, his will, is off the charts. He’s a throwback. That’s why he is in that G.O.A.T. dialog. And he can transfer ahead. As he retains profitable, he’ll climb that ladder. There’s already speak about, you realize, evaluating him and Michael, and there might be critical discuss if he wins one other one. It’s going to be arduous. Fans are actually going to be pushing for him to be proper up there with Michael.

What did you make of the NBA bubble’s social justice initiatives? I noticed you tweet about getting out the vote.

Yeah. It’s essential that every one the gamers use their platform for change, proper? Social injustice. To cease racism. You know, we as black males do not need to be in worry of our life each time we stroll out our door, or each time we get pulled over by a police officer. And we’re not saying each police officer is a foul policeman, both. Don’t get me mistaken. I feel what we’re saying is there are some, and so we’ve to simply do away with those that are dangerous cops. But apart from that, we respect the police. We want them in our neighborhood to guard our neighborhood.

And I feel that George Floyd getting killed and murdered simply raised everyone’s eyeballs, not simply the black neighborhood, however all communities. When you noticed the protests, you noticed that. You noticed they was black and white standing aspect by aspect. It was the Brown neighborhood, Latinos standing aspect by aspect. There have been Asian Americans standing aspect by aspect with black protesters. So it was everyone protesting at the similar time. That’s what made it a phenomenal scene. So, the gamers undoubtedly led the cost and can proceed to guide the cost, when it comes to, they need folks to go vote. And, you realize, to result in change, you bought to get in the sport, so that you gotta vote. So, once more, the gamers have executed a beautiful job of utilizing their platform, whether or not that was throughout the playoffs or throughout the bubble, but in addition on their social media as effectively.


But let me simply finish by saying, you realize, small companies are actually liable for, you concentrate on how many individuals all the small companies make use of. Almost half of our nation, proper? Almost half of America is employed by small enterprise homeowners. So that is very, essential for what we’re speaking about at this time, when it comes to Amazon and me coming into this partnership. We want small companies to remain alive. Especially proper now, lots of them are struggling throughout COVID.

And that is why I made certain that by my firm, EquiTrust, I pledged first $100 million and now one other $225 million, so general $325 million, to assist minority-owned small companies hold their doorways open and hold their staff as effectively. So that is why Amazon and I actually need to assist these small companies with the prospects they have already got, and likewise attempt to create new prospects. And we need to assist them throughout this time, as a result of the most essential factor is to drive prospects to them throughout this vacation season, which is essential. So, I needed to depart you with that message.

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