Q+A Magic Johnson

November 04, 2002

Recently enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the
executive producer of the current film Brown Sugar, the immortal
Laker now prepares to join Charles Barkley & Co. on Thursday
nights as an NBA studio analyst for TNT.

SI: On a day-to-day basis, how healthy do you feel?

Johnson: I feel great. I haven't had a bad day. I love life. I
love living. I work out every morning. By 7:30 I'm up banging the
weights and running.

SI: Will you get any airtime sitting next to Charles?

Johnson: Probably very little.

SI: Did your premature retirement and HIV status motivate you to
become more successful in business?

Johnson: I don't think it motivated me more, because I was
already motivated. I think it just jump-started the process. My
dream was to be a businessman. That was true even while I was

SI: Looking back, just how bad was The Magic Hour on Fox?

Johnson: Very bad. [Laughs.]

SI: Is Kobe better than Michael was at age 24?

Johnson: Michael fundamentally was so sound and was physically so
much stronger than everybody else that right now Kobe is not
there yet. It may take him a year or two, but right now, no.

SI: What would have happened if one of your players had tried to
choke you while you were an NBA coach?

Johnson: He'd probably still be lying in a hospital.

SI: Would you ever coach in the NBA again?

Johnson: No. You don't have to worry about that.

SI: Your Showtime Lakers trail the Shaq-Kobe Lakers by one with
10 seconds left. What play do you call?

Johnson: I call a Fist Up, which is a clear-out for Kareem and
myself. Then I decide: If Kareem has great position, I throw it
to him. If he's not open, then I take it one-on-one myself.

SI: So that means you're taking it one-on-one against Derek
Fisher. I think I like your chances.

Johnson: [Laughs.] Yeah, exactly.

SI: Is there any person on earth whom you'd like to meet that you
haven't already met?

Johnson: Not really. The beautiful thing about being in L.A. and
being a part of the Lakers is that you get to meet everybody.

For more from Magic Johnson, go to cnnsi.com/scorecard.

COLOR PHOTO: MARK J. TERRILL/AP (MAGIC) "The Magic Hour was bad"

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