By Derick Ramos
Photo by Ron Cantiveros
Basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson didn’t need a basketball to entertain the crowd at the 42nd Annual JCC Rady Sports Dinner. All he needed was a mic. Magic was the keynote speaker at the gala that recognized local Jewish athletes and paid honour to Larry Vickar for his work within the community. Every year, the dinner raises funds to support programs at the Rady Jewish Community Centre and this year, Magic Johnson was there with the game winning assist.
Johnson enlightened the crowd with stories about his life growing up and his battle with HIV. He spoke about his college and NBA playing days. He even touched upon Donald Sterling and his reaction to his controversial remarks. Just like on the court, his smile and charisma wowed the audience.
The room was captivated by his tales about Celtic legend Larry Bird and how their epic battles made him a better player. He inspired future entrepreneurs when he talked about how his investments in Starbucks and his movie theatres ultimately led him to the owner’s box of the Los Angeles Dodgers that his ownership group purchased for a record $2 Billion. And at the tail end of his speech, he provided the best trick of the night. He donated a Laker ticket package and auctioned it off for $15,000. He waited until the end of the auction to tell the crowd that there were four packages available to the bidders which raised $60,000 in the span of a few minutes.
You don’t have to be a Laker fan to respect what Magic has done on and off the court. His humour, generosity, and business savvy were on full display. Many never got the chance to watch the NBA Hall of Famer live on the court but for those that attended the Rady JCC Dinner, they witnessed Magic Johnson in championship form.
Group photos with Magic Johnson courtesy of Manuel Sousa/Rady JCC.