Basketball legend and successful entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson visited California State University, Northridge for the annual Big Lecture, on April 4 at The Matadome.
Johnson — a five-time NBA champion, three-time MVP Award winner and a member of the Hall of Fame — spoke to CSUN students and members of the community about his professional success and how his failures motivated him to overcome challenges throughout his life.
“You have to learn from your mistakes and get better,” Johnson said. “And when the situation comes again, show what you’ve learned.”
The Lakers star retired in 1996, shifting his focus to business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. He is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club. He is also chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which fosters underserved communities.
“Yes, be about making money and being successful, but also go back to your community and helping someone else,” he said.
Johnson shared stories from his childhood in Lansing, Mich., where he grew up owning just two pairs of pants and three shirts. But growing up in hardship never discouraged him from striving for success, he said.
“It doesn’t matter where you grow up,” Johnson said. “Quit worrying about what you don’t have, because you can have everything when you work hard.”
During the lecture, his eyes eventually fell on the Matador banner hanging from the ceiling of The Matadome — and Johnson said he embraced its slogan.
“Pride. Determination. Commitment. Excellence,” he read out loud. “That’s what I’m all about.”
He encouraged students to be determined, committed and to take chances — especially in their professional lives.
“Just get into a company and prove that you’re the best,” Johnson said. “Be the first one there, the last one to leave and keep asking if people need anything else. Be professional and become indispensable. That’s what you’re striving for.
“I was never late for practice,” he added, recalling his basketball career. “I was always the first one there and the last one to leave.”
The crowd capped Johnson’s lecture with a standing ovation after he interacted with individual audience members, including singing Happy Birthday to a female student and giving a shout-out to a young boy.
“I enjoyed what he said and how he interacted with students,” said CSUN student Mitchell Granese. “I was excited when he talked about his business ventures, and it was great hearing about his experiences during his basketball and business career.”
Granese, a cinema and television arts junior, said he is a big basketball and Laker fan, and was looking forward to the event.
“I liked that he answered questions with a personal touch,” added cinema and television arts junior Jonathan Suarez. “You could tell he wants to help people to become successful.”