On Friday, June 3, 2022, Ros Gold-Onwude and NBA Top Shot sat down with Magic Johnson for a one-on-one interview, hosted on Twitter Spaces, to discuss The Anthology: Magic Johnson — new NBA Top Shot NFTs capturing his historic career — the NBA Finals and WNBA season.

This first-of-its-kind collection of officially licensed NBA collectibles features some of Magic Johnson's most iconic and special highlights and games, dropping on June 7, only on NBA Top Shot.

Find some of the best moments from the interview below, edited for clarity and length, with a full recording of the electric conversation with an all-time Legend on Twitter Spaces, as well as the Official NBA Top Shot Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Magic Johnson NFT NBA Top Shot

Ros: What did you make of Game 1 of the NBA Finals?

Magic: Just think about what Steph was able to do in that first quarter — the place was buzzing, going crazy — I mean 21 points is incredible. They were up double digits. You’re thinking, ‘Uh oh, it’s gonna be one of those nights. Steph’s gonna go crazy. Warriors are gonna have a big half.’ Then, all of a sudden in that 2nd quarter, the Celtics really clamped down defensively on the Warriors and got their offense going.

Remember, they were struggling for a minute, especially with Tatum struggling most of the game. They finally got it going in the second quarter, and took the lead at halftime. I said, ‘Man, I see a lot of the Warriors playing tugging on their shorts and bending over.’ I thought the layoff might have some effect on them. Third quarter, they take a double-digit lead. Going into the fourth quarter, you say, ‘Okay, this might be over.’ 

About the first five minutes was beautiful basketball where both teams couldn’t miss. Remember, it was just back and forth. Big shot after big shot on both sides. Then the Celtics defense stopped them in the last 5 minutes of the game and got the victory. I think it meant more to (the Celtics) than the Warriors, because when you have a young team that’s never been there before, for them to win Game 1 on the road, means a lot. Meant a lot for their confidence and believing in themselves, and making sure now, they believe they can win this series.

You’re gonna see Boston come with a different mindset than if they lost Game 1 – they would’ve been down and everything. They needed this boost of confidence. And the way they won it too. They can do things that no other team can do against the Warriors. Their small team is effective and they can switch everything on the defensive end. That really bothered the Warriors in the last six minutes. 

Ros: Magic, you went to the Finals nine times, you won five championships in the NBA. How hard is it to achieve what the Warriors have done? 

Magic: It’s difficult. You have to remember, there are only five guys left off that team. Steph, Klay, Draymond and then you got Looney and Iguodala. All the other guys are new for the Warriors. For them to get back to The Finals once again, especially after the last two years of Klay’s devastating injury, and then Steph’s injury last season. Draymond’s has been injured in and out the last two years as well.

For all three of them to be healthy and go back to The Finals once again with a chance to win another championship is truly amazing. It is a dynasty.

If they win this one, man, they go down as one of the greatest teams.

If they win this one, man, they go down as one of the greatest teams.

Ros: How do you reflect on where Stephen Curry is in his career as he steps into his sixth NBA Finals and all he’s already achieved?

Magic: Well, I think he’s already there as one of the greatest that’s ever played. We know he’s the greatest shooter that’s ever lived. He doesn’t need anything more to happen. Anything else that happens is just cherry on the top.

Ros: Even a first NBA Finals MVP? One thing he has not gotten yet.

Magic: He hasn’t won that yet, but listen, when you can be a “change agent” that’s what I call him. He’s changed the way the game has been played. Very few guys get to be in that category.

Magic Johnson NFT

Ros: Magic, I want to dive into your mindset as a hooper, but also as a businessman. How’d you get into NFTs and decide blockchain was something you wanted to get into?

Magic: Well, signing with Top Shot, when you think about my iconic moments, they all happened in the NBA. I’m always about being the first. For me to be the first one to sign, the NBA has all my memorable moments and shots, so I love the fact the fans will get to have a little bit of “Magic.”

I’m doing it with the best company. I like to run with the best.

I’m excited, I really am. Every time I go somewhere, even last night, people are really excited about the Moments being available for them to purchase.

This is an exciting time. NFTs – this is the way of the world now.

This is an exciting time. NFTs – this is the way of the world now.

I’ve been recruited by every NFT company. I wanted to wait and make sure I went with the right one. Top Shot is the right one. NBA is the right one. This is exciting for me as well.

Magic Johnson NFT

Ros: How do these digital collectibles of your most legendary plays compare to trading cards? Now it’s actually mine that I can prove I own on the blockchain.

Magic: Trading cards were everything to a kid growing up. Even myself, I wanted my favorite players’ trading cards and I was all about that. We would trade with each other. Well this collectible basically is the same, but it’s what’s going on right now today. It’s really exciting, because you can have it and keep, trade it or sell it, it’s amazing. 

This is the modern-day trading card.

This is the modern-day trading card. It’s wonderful. It got me excited about all those shots, all those remarkable moments I shared on the basketball court with my teammates, and I played against some of the greatest players that ever played.

Now, people get to own some of those moments. You can not only own one, but a few of them. 

So that’s why it’s special. It’s out there in the clouds. It’s ready for you. You don’t have to worry about maintaining it, putting it in the vault, keeping it safe. Or somebody tears it up, or picks it up and scratches it. You don’t have to be worried about all those things. All you need to do is purchase it and you have it forever.

Magic Johnson NFT

Ros: What does it mean to you, your legacy and exposure that now through this Top Shot Anthology pack, you might be touching younger fans of today?

Magic: It means a great deal, because those same fans you’re talking about have never seen me play, but they can go back and say, ‘I get to own some of his Moments. I get to own some of his most memorable shots...

It brings the newer fan to the NBA, to my legacy and other men and women’s legacies to live on as well.

It’s a way for the players to also make a living. A lot of players need this as well. It’s great for everybody. It’s great for the players. It’s great for the fans. It’s great for the league. So, everybody wins in this situation – especially the popularity of the game. It’s not just here in America, it’s around the world.

It brings the newer fan to the NBA, to my legacy and other men and women’s legacies to live on as well.

People around the world are gonna own “Magic Moments,” and I really love that.

Ros: March 19, 1985… Magic, take us to that play where you’re in transition and throw that around-the-back dime.

Magic: One of the Phoenix Suns players tried to go for the steal. I’m coming down on the fastbreak. I’ve got (the ball) in my right hand. He thought he had the steal, but I had to trick him right quick, go behind my back real fast, and throw the no-look, left-hand pass ... He dunked it!

Oh, man! Oooooo! You don’t get those moments today like that!

Magic Johnson NFT

Ros: How did you have such good timing on your passes? Is that something you can explain to us?

Magic: It’s hard to explain, because everything I do is in the moment. You don’t think about what you’ll do until you do it. The defense makes you react. He went for the steal, and I knew my teammate was already there. I peeped him after I got the outlet pass – I knew where he was.

I just had to shake and bake until I got down there.

I just had to shake and bake until I got down there. When he tried to go for the steal, I had to embarrass him...

I love when a man can finish off the great pass with a nice dunk. The place went crazy. You know me, that gets me hype when I do a pass like that. Everybody out there, you better go get it!

Ros: How did you balance the boldness versus not turning it over?

Magic: It’s what I do best and what I’m known for. I can do that with my eyes closed. My feel for the game is what made me Magic. Understanding that, not only can I go behind my back, I know how to get it there at the same time. You know it's coming, you just don't know how it's coming.

Everybody on the Lakers knew to get out to the lane and I’ll get it to you. They didn’t know how I was gonna throw it, I didn’t know how I was gonna throw it, but I was gonna throw it.

My first training camp, I hit two or three guys in the head with passes, because they weren’t looking.

'I know you’re open, but I’m gonna deliver it in a way you’ve never seen before.’

I told them, ‘You’re gonna get hit some more, so you better start looking.

I know you’re open, but I’m gonna deliver it in a way you’ve never seen before.’ Sure enough, those guys started putting their hands up, and hey, our fast break was fantastic. Even there, you gotta put that ball right in his chest where he can receive it and catch it.

That was a perfect pass, so he can go up and dunk it. A lot of guys don’t make perfect passes – this was a perfect pass. Right in the wheelhouse. He didn’t have to break stride or nothing.

Magic Johnson NBA Top Shot

Ros: Was this your favorite assist?

Magic: Oh, yeah. I had some more, but that one, because he finished it with that dunk and it was on the road, even the Phoenix Suns fans had to give a standing ovation. It was so sweet.

Ros: The junior, junior skyhook of the 1987 Finals. Seven seconds left in Game 4, and this play put the Lakers up for good. Can you take me through what you remember?

Magic: ...I think that’s when people said the torch has been passed... It was my league then. That year, not only did I win MVP of that series, I was the MVP of the league too. I won both. We won the championship. That’s why this hook is so special. It’s like a game-winner. Against the Celtics. In Boston Garden. You can’t get a rarer Moment than that. You don’t beat Boston in Boston Garden at that time. For us to do that on my skyhook… wow, what a Moment.

Everywhere I go to speak, at different retreats around this country, so many Fortune 500 companies have me come in and talk. Guess what the No. 1 question is. 

‘What were you thinking about when you shot that skyhook against the Celtics?’

‘Man, I couldn’t stand you. I hated you, because you hit that skyhook against my Celtics.’

Everywhere I go, that’s what everyone talks about. 

[Note: The Junior Junior Sky Hook, the fifth Moment in the Anthology Set, is coming later this year]

Ros: Do you feel that was legacy defining?

Magic: For sure. It went from, not only could I pass and do all the other things I was doing, but now they understood I was a force on the offensive end as well.

I could take over games, and win at the end of games. That’s what really started the conversation. A lot of guys can play at home, but can you actually do it on the road with the most pressure on you in a game-winning shot? Can you deliver during that time against the best in the game? I was able to do that. When I was on ABC last night, what did they lead in with? That shot right there.

Ros: What are you most excited about with the Los Angeles Sparks this season?

Magic: I think we have great balance. We knew it was gonna take us a while to get going when you think about (Nneka Ogwumike), and coming together. We had 9 or more new women coming to the team and trying to mesh, come together as a unit. In another week or so, they’ll understand how to play with each other, how to play defense together, how to read situations together. When you don’t know each other, you don’t know how to react. We saw last night how the Celtics knew how to react. They knew if Tatum had the ball up top to spread out. (Sparks) don’t have that yet. It’s coming. It’s getting better. And we played the majority of our games on the road. I think we’re going to have a great season. 

Here in Los Angeles, we’re so excited when you go to a Sparks game.

If you haven’t been to a WNBA game, you should go! Fans, it is so much fun. It’s such a great time. Here in Los Angeles, we’re so excited when you go to a Sparks game. We got the DJ. The old school, new school. We’ll be singing, dancing and partying.

I’m a big Laker fan, I go to every Laker game, but I have more fun at a Sparks game. I love the Lakers, but fun-wise, I have more fun at a Sparks game, because I’m up there singing. I’m up there dancing, cheering. It’s really a good time. Take in a WNBA game if you’re out there, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 

These women can really, really play. I’m not talking about just the Sparks. I’m talking about the whole league. It’s a different WNBA today than it was 10, 15, years ago.

These ladies can do things men can’t even do. It’s exciting. They really play hard and play good basketball.

Ros: Magic, if you had the opportunity to play in today’s game, how do you think your style of play would have changed compared to how it unfolded in the ‘80s? Would you have turned yourself into a 3-point shooter? A small-ball 5 when needed? Something else?

Magic: That’s a great question. I probably would’ve been a small-ball 5. I could do that. But my game wouldn’t have changed. I still would’ve been a guy who set up my teammates.

Of course, you’d have to shoot more 3-pointers. That’s okay. I could do that.

Probably in today’s game, I would’ve been a 4 or 5. You’ve the point-forwards now. You see, basically that’s what Tatum and Brown are. They bring it up, set it up. Draymond Green, that’s what he does for the Golden State Warriors. So, that would’ve been good for me. Take the ball, set up my teammates. Or, the lane is more open now. I probably would’ve scored more in today’s game, because once I got past my man, I’m going all the way. In today’s game, they don’t have a lot of shot-blockers like they did in my day.

Ros: Who is your favorite point guard to watch in this era?

Magic: They’re all so different. There’s not one. I love Steph. I love Ja. He’s so entertaining. I love watching him do his thing. Damian Lillard. I could keep going. I love watching great point-guard play. The young man with the Hawks. Trae Young. The man who puts it on a string, when you think about Kyrie.

LaMelo plays much like myself in terms of getting everyone involved with the fancy passes. His brother, Lonzo, I know very well. Of course I drafted him with the Lakers. I like point guards who know how to not only score, but know how to get their teammates the ball in the right situations, and make their teammates better.

Ros: This has been absolutely captivating. This is my favorite Twitter Spaces I’ve ever been a part of. 

Magic: Thank you. Keep on representing so many incredible women, and women in color, in this world of sports and entertainment. You make us all proud. You’re classy, you’re smart, beautiful. You do your job so, so well. There are little girls everywhere saying, ‘Hey, now I know I can be on TV because of you and what you’ve been able to do.’ God Bless you. Keep you safe and healthy.

If you enjoyed this interview, join us on Tuesday, June 7 for The Anthology: Magic Johnson, when you'll be able to collect NBA history and Magic Johnson's most iconic Moments. Need more Magic in your life? Visit The Athletic for a deep dive into his behind the back pass abilities, no-look dimes and incredible Game 6 performance in the NBA Finals as a rookie.

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