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.