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Magic Johnson on Signing LeBron James to the Lakers

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Magic reveals the details of his big meeting with LeBron James where he convinced him to sign with the Lakers, everyone that called him after the signing, how this move changes the NBA, and he talks about getting fined $500,000 by the NBA for saying too much during his last Kimmel appearance.
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Magic Johnson on Signing LeBron James to the Lakers

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>> Jimmy: HOW ARE YOU? >> I'M GOOD, I'M GOOD, I'M GOOD. >> Jimmy: THANKS FOR COMING. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU. IT'S WEIRD TO SEE YOU IN GREEN, THOUGH, I HAVE TO SAY. IT'S LIKE IT'S UPSETTING IN A WAY. >> WELL, MAYBE I JUST WANT TO .

PAY, YOU KNOW, A LITTLE HOMAGE TO LARRY BIRD. >> Jimmy: YEAH, YEAH. OR HOMAGE TO ALL THE MONEY YOU JUST GAVE LeBRON. >> WE GAVE HIM A LOT. >> Jimmy: YEAH, RIGHT, YOU DID. >> THE LAST TIME I WAS HERE, I GOT IN TROUBLE. .

>> Jimmy: I KNOW. >> MAKE SURE I DON'T GET IN TROUBLE TODAY. >> Jimmy: YOU KNOW, I GOT IN TROUBLE TOO. PEOPLE WERE MAD AT ME BECAUSE THERE WAS A FINE ASSESSED. THE LEAGUE TAKES THESE FREE AGENT CONVERSATIONS VERY SERIOUSLY. .

>> $500,000. >> Jimmy: $500,000 AS A RESULT OF YOUR APPEARANCE ON THIS SHOW. >> AND WE HAVE A GOOD TIME TOO. BUT THE THING I WOULD MAD AT, EVERYBODY OUT HERE, JIMMY DIDN'T CALL ME TO SAY, HEY, I'MA THROW IN $100,000, $3 200,000. >> Jimmy: NO. .

>> I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO CALL SAYING, I'M GOING TO HELP YOU OUT. >> Jimmy: YEAH, NO. WELL, DON'T YOU GET LIKE $800 FOR BEING HERE? THAT'S MY CONTRIBUTION. >> OKAY, YOU MADE YOUR CONTRIBUTION THAT WAY. .

>> Jimmy: A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO YOU ANNOUNCED IF YOU WERE UNABLE AS PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL OPERATIONS TO BRING A MAJOR FREE AGENT TO THE LAKERS, YOU WOULD QUIT, YOU WOULD RESIGN, YOU WOULD CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE A FAILURE. AT THAT TIME DID YOU HAVE A GOOD IDEA THAT YOU WERE GOING TO GET .

LeBRON? >> NO. >> Jimmy: YOU DID NOT. >> NO. BUT I HAD CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF AND ALSO THE LAKER BRAND, THE LAKER YOUNG PLAYERS THAT WE HAVE. LUKE WALTON AS THE COACH. YOU KNOW, ROB POLINKA AND I WILL.

DO OUR HOMEWORK, AND WE REALLY THOUGHT WE HAD A GREAT PLAN TO INTRODUCE TO LeBRON. WHEN YOU GOT AN OWNER LIKE JEANIE BUSS, I THINK ALL THOSE THINGS -- I THINK WE HAD A STRONG ARGUMENT TO HIM TO COME JOIN THE LAKERS. AND SO I COULDN'T WAIT TO GET IN FRONT OF HIM BECAUSE I HAD .

WATCHED ALL THE FILM ON HIM WHEN HE WAS WITH CLEVELAND, THE FIRST TIME, WHEN HE WAS WITH MIAMI, THEN WHEN HE WENT BACK TO CLEVELAND. SO I HAD A SENSE OF HIS GAME. AND WHAT HE WANTED IN TERMS OF WHAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR. BUT I HAD TO GET IN FRONT OF HIM TO JUST -- .

>> Jimmy: SELL HIM ON IT? >> WHERE WE ARE, THAT'S RIGHT. >> Jimmy: IT'S INTERESTING HOW IT WORKS. YOU MENTIONED THAT FINE. BECAUSE THE RULES ARE VERY STRICT. AT 9:01 P.M., THAT'S ON JUNE 30th, THAT'S WHEN YOU ARE ABLE TO START SPEAKING TO LeBRON. .

>> THAT'S RIGHT. >> Jimmy: NOT A MINUTE BEFORE THAT. >> NOT A MINUTE BEFORE. >> Jimmy: YOU DO GO TO HIS HOUSE. DID HE INVITE YOU TO HIS HOUSE. DO YOU CALL AND SAY, I'D LIKE TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE? >> THAT'S GOOD..

YEAH WE HAD TO CALL AND ASK FOR PERMISSION. >> Jimmy: I SEE, YES. >> TO HAVE A MEETING. BUT ROB CALLED, HIS AGENT. AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT RICH PAWS, HIS AGENT. WE TALKED AND SAID LeBRON WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A MEETING WITH THE .

LAKERS BUT HE WANTS TO HAVE IT WITH MAGIC SO THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED. >> Jimmy: THEN WERE YOU EXCITED? GREAT, I GET TO BE IN THERE BY MYSELF? OR DID YOU RATHER ROB WAS THERE, THE WHOLE TEAM WAS THERE? >> I WAS READY, MAN. >> Jimmy: YOU WERE READY TO DO .

IT. >> YEAH, YEAH. I WORK BEST BY MYSELF. I SHOWED UP AT 8:00. >> Jimmy: YOU SHOWED UP AT 8:00. BEFORE YOU TOOK THIS MEETING WITH LeBRON, DID YOU SPEAK TO LONZO BALL'S FATHER TO MAKE SURE IT WAS OKAY?.

OKAY TO RECRUIT HIM TO BE A PART OF THE TEAM? >> I WOULD HAVE CALLED YOU FIRST BEFORE I CALLED LAVAR BALL, TRUST ME. NO, I DIDN'T CALLA VAUR. >> Jimmy: YOU DID NOT CALL, OKAY. .

>> NO, AND ASK PERMISSION. SO I GOT TO 8:00 -- >> Jimmy: YOU'RE AN HOUR EARLY, WHAT DID YOU DO, SIT IN THE CAR? >> THAT'S RIGHT. I'M AN ON-TIME GUY. I WAS JUST HOPING THAT I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. I WAS LIKE, OKAY. >> Jimmy: IT WOULD BE A WEIRD .

WAY TO START. >> EXACTLY. I WOULD HAVE GOT FINED BECAUSE I HAD TO GO EARLY, RIGHT? >> Jimmy: YEAH, RIGHT. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ANPEE, YEA. YOU GET TO LeBRON'S HOUSE. >> I'M SITTING OUT THERE. I WAIT FOR 9:00. SO AT 9:00 I INCH TO THE GHATE..

>> Jimmy: OKAY. >> I DON'T RING THE BUZZER TILL 9:01. >> Jimmy: THEY REALLY HAVE YOU PARANOID. >> OH, MAN. THEY HAD ME SO SCARED. >> Jimmy: IT'S CRAZY. >> BECAUSE YOUR HALF MILLION DOLLARS I WAS THINKING ABOUT .

THAT. >> Jimmy: YEAH. AND IT WASN'T LIKE THAT BACK WHEN YOU WERE -- >> NO. >> Jimmy: -- PLAYING, RIGHT? IT WAS DIFFERENT. >> IT'S DIFFERENT NOW. >> Jimmy: YOU SIT DOWN WITH .

LeBRON. AND HOW DO YOU OPEN IT? LIKE HOW DO YOU START? DOES HE START, DO YOU START? >> OF COURSE HE GREETED ME AT THE DOOR. WE SAT DOWN. AND I TELL YOU SOMETHING, JIMMY. THIS GUY IS SO SMART. >> Jimmy: WHAT WAS HE WEARING?.

>> THERE'S SOME SHORTS, YOU KNOW. HE HAD ON HIS LeBRON NIKE GEAR. >> Jimmy: OKAY, ALL RIGHT. >> AND LOOKING VERY SHARP. >> Jimmy: GOTCHA. >> YOU KNOW. VERY RELAXED. >> Jimmy: UH-HUH. .

>> WE JUST, YOU KNOW, STARTED TALKING ABOUT HOW WE BOTH GREW UP, FIRST. AND HOW WE HAD PROBABLY THE SAME EXPECTATIONS OF, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE EXPECTED US TO WIN AND BE GOOD AND WE BOTH MIDWEST BOYS, HIM FROM OHIO, ME FROM MICHIGAN. WE STARTED THAT DIRECTION. THEN WE HEADED TOWARD THE .

LAKERS. AND HE BROKE DOWN EVERY PLAYER ON OUR TEAM. THEIR STRENGTH AND WEAKNESSES. HE ALREADY KNEW, YOU KNOW, THE GUYS ON OUR TEAM. >> Jimmy: YOU WERE IMPRESSED BY THAT? >> I WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH THAT..

THE FACT THAT HE KNEW HE COULD FIT INTO THIS YOUNG CORE THAT WE HAD. AND SO WE JUST STARTED A DIALOGUE. AND BEFORE WE KNEW IT, YOU KNOW, TWO HOURS HAD PASSED ALREADY. BUT IT WAS A LOT OF LAKER EXPECTATIONS AND OFFENSE, DEFENSE, YOU KNOW..

HOW HE LIKES TO PLAY. AND WHAT WAS GREAT IS THIS IS HOW HE WANTS TO PLAY TODAY. RIGHT? THE WAY THE LAKERS PLAY, WITH PACE. HE'S GOING TO REALLY TAKE OUR PLAYERS TO THIS LEVEL. >> Jimmy: SURE HE IS. >> MAKE THEM SO MUCH BETTER. .

>> Jimmy: 24 HOURS AFTER THAT GOLDEN STATE, WHICH THEY ALREADY HAVE THIS UNBELIEVABLE TEAM, THEY SIGN DeMARCUS COUSINS, WHO'S ANOTHER ALL-STAR. >> RIGHT. >> Jimmy: IS THAT DISPIRITING WHEN YOU HEAR THAT? >> NO, NO, I LOVE COMPETITION. I LOVE CHASING THE BEST..

THEY'RE THE BEST, SO WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO PLAYING AGAINST THEM. >> Jimmy: I SEE. DO YOU THINK AT THIS POINT THE LAKERS, THE WAY THE TEAM IS SITUATED RIGHT NOW, COULD BEAT GOLDEN STATE? >> I THINK, YOU KNOW, WE WILL LOOK FORWARD TO THAT CHALLENGE, RIGHT?.

EVERYBODY EXPECTS GOLDEN STATE TO WIN AGAIN. BUT I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THE CHALLENGE AND TO PLAY THEM IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS. >> Jimmy: RIGHT. >> IF WE COULD GET TO THAT POSITION. SO I'M NOT -- I'M A COMPETITOR. SO I'M NOT SCARED OF GOLDEN .

STATE. I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT GOLDEN STATE. THEY DON'T KEEP ME UP AT NIGHT. I KNOW THAT WE HAVE A REALLY SOLID TEAM, A GOOD TEAM, A COMPETITIVE TEAM, AND A TOUGH-MINDED TEAM. AND WE GOT GUYS NOW WHO ARE WINNERS..

LeBRON JAMES BRINGS A CHAMPIONSHIP MENTALITY TO OUR TEAM. SO DOES RONDO. HE'S WON A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH BOSTON. >> Jimmy: SURE, YEAH. >> AND THEN JaVALE McGEE, WHO USED TO PLAY FOR GOLDEN STATE, HE'S WON TWO CHAMPIONSHIPS. .

>> Jimmy: BEFORE YOU SIGN THESE GUYS, DO YOU TALK TO LeBRON ABOUT IT? >> OH, FOR SURE. >> Jimmy: YOU DO. >> FOR SURE. >> Jimmy: THAT WAS A COURTESY THAT WAS EXTENDED TO YOU AS WELL? >> EXACTLY..

DR. BUSS, BEFORE WE MADE MOVES, HE WOULD ALWAYS COME TO ME WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS GUY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS TRADE? AND SO I WANT TO MAKE SURE I DO THE SAME. BECAUSE LeBRON HAS PLAYED AGAINST THESE GUYS. SO HE KNOWS THEM EVEN BETTER .

THAN MYSELF. >> Jimmy: RIGHT, YEAH. >> HE KNOWS WHAT'S UP HERE, HE KNOWS WHAT'S IN HERE. THAT'S IMPORTANT, TO KNOW IF THEY'RE SMART, IF THEY'RE TOUGH, IF THEY'RE TOUGH-MINDED, THAT'S IMPORTANT. >> Jimmy: DENZEL WASHINGTON WAS HERE LAST WEEK..

AND I WAS ASKING HIM, HE'S OBVIOUSLY A LAKERS FAN. I ASKED HIM IF HE CALLED YOU AFTER THE LAKERS SIGNED LeBRON. HE SAID HE DID CALL YOU AND YOU RUSHED HIM OFF THE TELEPHONE. >> YOU KNOW I LOVE DENZEL. >> Jimmy: WHO DOESN'T LOVE DENZEL? >> I HELPED DENZEL GET HIS .

SEASON TICKETS ON THE FLOOR THERE, RIGHT? LONG, LONG TIME AGO. >> Jimmy: HE NEEDED HELP? >> OH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. >> Jimmy: REALLY? >> HE NEEDED HELP, YOU KNOW. I HELPED HIM OUT, YOU KNOW. TOLD HIM TO CALL DR. BUSS, THAT .

WHOLE THING. >> Jimmy: WHO ELSE CALLED YOU? >> EVERYBODY. >> Jimmy: JACK NICHOLSON? >> EVERYBODY. >> Jimmy: POPE FRANCIS, DID HE MAKE A PHONE CALL? >> EVERYBODY BUT THE POPE. BUT I SAID SOME PRAYERS..

SO HOPEFULLY THE POPE PUT THEM UP TO GOD FOR ME TO GET LeBRON. >> Jimmy: HONESTLY, DID YOU AT ANY POINT STOP AND PRAY THAT GOD WOULD BRING YOU LeBRON JAMES TO YOUR TEAM? >> NO, I DIDN'T PRAY FOR LeBRON. BUT I PRAYED FOR SUCCESS IN FREE AGENCY. >> Jimmy: YOU DID..

>> SO, YOU KNOW -- LISTEN, THIS HAS CHANGED THE NBA FOR THE BETTER. IT HAS CHANGED LOS ANGELES AND LAKER NATION FOR THE BETTER. >> Jimmy: IT HAS CHANGED CLEVELAND FOR THE MUCH WORSE. >> WELL, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?.

YOU GOT TO GIVE HIM CREDIT. HE BROUGHT THEM THE CHAMPIONSHIP. >> Jimmy: HE CERTAINLY DID. >> HE DELIVERED TO CLEVELAND. >> Jimmy: AND I REMEMBER SOMETHING THAT LeBRON TOLD ME MANY YEARS AGO WHEN WE HOSTED THE ESPYs TOGETHER. AFTER WHEN PEOPLE WERE SO UPSET .

WITH HIM FOR LEAVING CLEVELAND. HE SAID, I'M FROM AKRON. I'M NOT FROM CLEVELAND. THEY MAKE FUN OF US HERE. YOU KNOW? AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS INTERESTING. >> BUT HE'S -- LISTEN. HE IS A WONDERFUL MAN. SMART..

HE'S A BUSINESSMAN AS WELL. OWNS SOCCER TEAMS. OWNED DIFFERENT BUSINESSES. PIZZA, ON AND ON AND ON. >> Jimmy: YES, HE'S VERY RICH. >> YES, YES. >> Jimmy: DID YOU SAY TO HIM, YOU'RE LOADED, YOU'VE GOT SOCCER TEAMS, PIZZA, MAYBE WE CAN DO .

THIS FOR HALF PRICE? >> I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO GET A DISCOUNT, I DIDN'T GET ONE. >> Jimmy: YOU DIDN'T ASK. YOU'VE GOT TO ASK FOR THAT DISCOUNT. >> YOU KNOW WHAT, I WANTED HIM SO BAD, I DIDN'T WANT WHEN TO MESS UP. .

>> Jimmy: RIGHT, YEAH. NO, YOU DON'T WANT TO MESS UP SOMETHING LIKE THAT. >> NO, NO, LeBRON, I'MA PAY YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT.

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