Jeanie Buss recalls meeting Lakers’ No. 1 pick Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson poses with Jerry Buss before a Lakers game.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers rarely pick in the top 10 of the NBA draft. They’ll do so on Thursday night with the seventh overall selection.

Lakers owner/executive Jeanie Buss, in an essay on her late father Jerry Buss for C-Suite Quarterly, recalled meeting one of the team’s rare No. 1 overall draft picks -- Magic Johnson.

“The first time I met Magic was shortly after the draft. He flew to Los Angeles to meet my father,” said Buss. “I was there to answer the doorbell. I opened the door and here was a kid only two years older than me with a smile that could rival the sun and light up an entire city.”

Apparently in June 1979, Johnson didn’t believe he was going to stay long with the Lakers.

“He told me matter-of-factly that he appreciated being drafted by the Lakers but that he was only going to stay for three years because he wanted to go home to Michigan and play for his hometown team – the Detroit Pistons,” recalled Buss.


Her natural reaction was panic, but she attempted to hide it from Johnson -- racing upstairs to pass on the devastating news to her father.

“My dad didn’t bat an eye. He told me, ‘Jeanie, don’t worry. He may say that today, but the first time he puts on a Lakers’ uniform and steps out on the Forum floor, he is never going to leave.’”

Johnson went on to win five titles with the Lakers, finishing with three NBA most valuable player awards.

The Lakers aren’t likely to be so lucky with their pick Thursday. A player of Johnson’s caliber comes around once in a lifetime.

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