Will Magic Johnson’s Dodgers Buy Inspire More Black Players to Own?

The $2 billion deal by the former Los Angeles Lakers star and partners has big implications in the sports world and for Black fans. 

Posted: 03/28/2012 05:38 PM EDT
 Magic Johnson

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson will become a majority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, setting a path for other wealthy Black players to follow suit. 

Though there are few professional sports team majority owners, the reality is that African-Americans dominate sports nationwide. The percentage of African-American players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) has remained relatively constant over the past decade, fluctuating between 72 and 75 percent, according to the NBA. The National Football League (NFL) numbers remain steady, too, at 65 percent, according to statistics.

Johnson’s ownership is one that trumps many other former sports stars who hold or have held NBA limited partnerships, including David Robinson, who partially owned the San Antonio Spurs, and entertainers Jay-Z and Bill Cosby, who have limited partnerships with the New Jersey Nets. NBA legend and former Detroit Piston Isaiah Thomas, who was general manager of the Toronto Raptors following his retirement, became part owner of the Canadian basketball team.

While a number of African-Americans have tried to buy a majority stake in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, only two today are majority owners.  

The only African-Americans who have majority ownership of sports teams are Michael Jordan and Sheila Johnson. In 2010, former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan took the helm of the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team; in 2005, Sheila Johnson, the ex-wife of BET co-founder Robert Johnson, was named team president, managing partner and governor of the WNBA Washington Mystics.

Jordan and Johnson also have a partnership in the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals and the NBA's Washington Wizards.

"Purchasing the Bobcats is the culmination of my post-playing career goal of becoming the majority owner of an NBA franchise. I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to build a winning team in my home state of North Carolina," Jordan said in 2010.

Announced Tuesday, Magic Johnson will become a majority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the record-setting purchase price of $2 billion, in partnership with a new consortium.

The deal will be finalized at the end of April and will include MLB and NBA executive Stan Kasten and Peter Guber, head of Mandalay Entertainment, a multimedia entertainment company. The project will be financed by Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners, a privately held global financial services firm.

"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodgers franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by [present Dodgers owner] Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.

The price paid for the Dodgers breaks sports franchise records. In 2009, Stephen Ross paid $1.1 billion for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and in England, president and CEO of First Allied Corporation Malcolm Glazer and his family bought the Manchester United soccer club in 2005 for $1.47 billion.

Similar to many industries in which Blacks dominate as workers and consumers but don’t own a part, Johnson’s move will serve as inspiration for African-Americans to take control of their market power.

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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)