Lakers legend Magic Johnson has sold his shares in the team, it was announced on Monday. Long-time Lakers season ticket holder, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, bought Johnson’s stake in the franchise for an undisclosed sum.
“The sale of Earvin’s share of the team is a business decision which will not change our relationship,” Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss said in a statement. “Our friendship goes well beyond business. Patrick is a longtime and passionate Lakers fan and we are delighted to have him as a partner.”
The sale ends 10 years of ownership for Johnson, who has been affiliated with the team for three decades.
Dr. Soon-Shiong is the billionaire founder of the cancer-fighting company Abraxis BioScience and ranked #87 on The World’s Billionaires 2009 on Forbes.com
His Forbes profile from 2003 paints a picture of a ruthless (maybe shady?) businessman.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has been called ruthless and a headline-grabber. As a scientist he has been criticized for hyping his research results; as a drugmaker he has been accused of ripping off investors. Short-sellers have boldly bet against him, risking huge losses. Even his own brother, an early backer, sued him for fraud and fired him–twice–from the company they started. Their skirmishing lasted two years and destroyed their relationship.
Yet Soon-Shiong, chairman and controlling shareholder of publicly held American Pharmaceutical Partners, endured the blows and has been largely exonerated–in the meantime, rising to billionaire status. Credit his immovable faith in the promise of an experimental cancer treatment dubbed Abraxane.
It is being speculated that Magic will now become part of the Detroit Pistons ownership group. Earlier this month, Mike Ilitch – who owns the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings – purchased the Pistons. In August, NBA.com reported Johnson wanted a larger piece of an NBA franchise or the opportunity to run a front office. Obviously, neither of those things were going to happen with the Lakers.