Magic Johnson on How Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ Inspired His New Apple Docuseries

Premiering his new Apple TV Plus docuseries “They Call Me Magic” at the South by Southwest Film Festival, Magic Johnson shared that Michael Jordan’s Netflix docuseries “The Last Dance” helped him decide it was finally time to tell his own life story.

“The reason we did it is because when Michael did ‘The Last Dance,’ my phone just started ringing,” the former L.A. Laker said in a post-screening discussion. “They said, ‘When are you coming out with yours?’ And we got some great investors, great partners, great producers, and they really took it to another level.”

At the same time, Johnson wanted to make sure “They Call Me Magic” would take a different approach than Jordan’s series.

“[My family] said, ‘What’s gonna be different from you and Michael Jordan’s [documentaries]?’” he continued. “And you can see. Michael — who I love, that’s my dear friend — but [‘The Last Dance’] was driven by his great accomplishments on the basketball court. [In ‘They Call Me Magic,’] you’re seeing my family, friends, everybody involved. You’re going to see every episode be a different journey in my life. That’s what makes me proud.”

Jordan appears in the first episode of “They Call Me Magic,” saying, “Everybody wants to credit Michael Jordan for changing the NBA, but when Magic Johnson came in, that’s where the game changed.” Johnson, who hadn’t watched “They Call Me Magic” until the premiere, was moved.

“I was up there laughing and almost crying at the same time, hearing my family talk, hearing Larry Bird, and when Michael said what he said, which was really amazing,” he said. “We had never heard that from Michael, for him to say that everybody thought he had turned the league around but that I was a big part of that.”

Johnson also took time to discuss his business-oriented collaborations with other athletes.

“I was able to mentor Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal], and even Kobe [Bryant] before he passed away. Blessings to you, Kobe,” he said, taking a pause to look upwards. “And Dwayne Wade and Grant Hill, a lot of football players. Anybody that wants to start their own business as an athlete, they call me. I’m trying to help them achieve that goal.”

All four parts of “They Call Me Magic” debut on Apple TV Plus on April 22.

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