In what some called the “magic lunch,” basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson stole the show before a lunchtime crowd at TD Ameritrade’s annual conference in San Diego.
Johnson, a born entertainer and entrepreneur, regaled the crowd with lessons learned from his sports and business career, stopping frequently to joke and take photos with advisors.
He had a gift for basketball, but ended up playing at several losing teams in high school, college and then the pros when the downtrodden L.A. Lakers drafted him in 1979. In each case, he led the teams to championship seasons.
After his basketball career, Johnson cold-called season ticket holders of the Lakers, looking for business mentors.  He learned to surround himself with the best people and business partners he could find, Johnson said.
Turns out Johnson has a gift for business as well as basketball, with an impressive string of major business deals involving the L.A. Lakers basketball team, the L.A. Dodgers baseball franchise, movie theatres, the food service industry, a staffing company and Starbucks coffee outlets.
Johnson said his credo is to do well for himself, his partners and the communities he invests in, with a focus on urban minority communities.
It’s not how much you can make for yourself, Johnson said, “it’s how many people you can help to do well.”
But Johnson, who won five NBA championships leading the Lakers, can also be hard-nosed, willing to dump business advisors when necessary and sell out at a good profit.
 “I don’t fall in love with nothing I own,” Johnson said. “If I get the right price …”
“You take it,” answered someone from the TD Ameritrade crowd, which earned the advisor a hug and photo opp from the 6-foot-9-inch Johnson.
After losing to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the 1984 NBA playoffs, Magic dedicated himself to improve his game, winning the championship the next year.
“To you business people, sometimes your competition can make you better,” he said.