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Magic Johnson's New Book on Entrepreneurial Success

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: I recently sat down with basketball great, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, for a look inside his new book, "32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business." So how did the NBA legend transform himself from a hard-wood champion to a champion in the boardroom?

Our own Brian Kilmeade has the inside story, and we have the interview. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EARVIN "MAGIC" JOHNSON, AUTHOR, "32 WAYS TO BE A CHAMPION IN BUSINESS": I will have to retire from the Lakers today.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On November 7, 1991, the sports world rocked with the revelation that Earvin "Magic" Johnson had tested positive for the HIV virus.

Video: Watch the 'H & C' interview with Magic Johnson

The years that preceded the devastating diagnosis included one of the most storied careers in basketball history, as Johnson entered the pantheon of sports royalty. His years after include examples of activism, community heroism and business acumen that have made Magic Johnson the symbol of hope to millions of people worldwide.

With a tailor-made nickname and reputation for winning, Johnson was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 NBA draft. Show time had returned to Hollywood, and its leading man went by the name Magic.

Five world championships later, including three historic battles with his arch enemy Boston Celtics and their captain, Larry Bird, solidified Magic Johnson as one of the NBA's all-time 50 greatest players. But his epic basketball career was tragically cut short.

For Johnson, this was just the start of another amazing chapter in his life. His transformation from NBA legend to HIV activist and entrepreneur would define his post-basketball life. The Magic Johnson Foundation was created in the early '90s to educate teens and combat AIDS worldwide.

Meanwhile, business ventures like Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of inner-city movie theaters, eventually led to Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company with a net worth of over $700 million.

So for Earvin Johnson, life has truly been magic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: Very nice to meet you.

JOHNSON: Nice to meet you, too, Alan.

COLMES: Now, you're taller than me because you're on a ramp.

JOHNSON: That's certainly why.

COLMES: By the way, I understand you cried the night Obama...

JOHNSON: Yes.

COLMES: You, Magic Johnson, cried when Obama was elected?

JOHNSON: Yes, I did, my wife and I. We were sitting there at Samuel Jackson and Latanya Jackson's house, and we all were crying. It was just a special night, a special moment that truly -- we might not never see in our lifetime again. But I think that I never thought I would see this day. You know, I didn't know if America was ready to elect President-elect Obama as president, but wow.

COLMES: You grew up in Michigan, and you never thought this would ever happen?

JOHNSON: No. Never in my wildest dreams. And I can't wait until the inauguration and get him going and get him working. So get this economy going.

COLMES: Yes, in terms of getting the economy going, this is a great timing for your book, because people want to know what they can do, how they can become entrepreneurs just like you did.

You've got, what, 91 different locations in 22 different states, 91 different businesses. So you -- and you started 1979. You started right away getting your business act together. Many players -- what do you do after your time is up as a player? And you had that all planned out, it seems.

JOHNSON: It was really wonderful for me to get involved in business while I was still playing. I think that gave me the platform to transition into business, basketball did.

COLMES: But you had a vision and you had a passion. And you talk in the book, and it's inspirational, about how people -- first of all, you need to have a vision and you need to have the passion to carry out the vision.

JOHNSON: That's right.

COLMES: Not everybody knows what they're going to do. You at least had some thought. How do you find that right niche?

JOHNSON: If I could see that there's something missing in a community, then I go out and bring it.

COLMES: You do the research first to...

JOHNSON: Do the research first, do your homework.

COLMES: One of the things you talk about in the book is branding and how one brands oneself. And your very personal story about when you were diagnosed HIV positive, you had to deal with branding yourself. You were a brand.

JOHNSON: Right.

COLMES: And that was something you had to overcome. How did you approach that issue?

JOHNSON: A great, great question. What happened was a lot of the endorsements that I had, those companies dropped me, so I had to reinvent myself. I had to come back and make sure that I now built a business brand instead of a basketball brand.

And so I made sure that, in my investments, that I became successful. I was very disciplined on who I would get in business with, because their brand would help my brand grow, and I would help their brand grow.

COLMES: Did you fight some prejudice of people who said, you've got this disease, which many people didn't understand, and still don't understand. How do you overcome objections from people who might not want to invest with you, based on that?

JOHNSON: Well, that happened a few times, but I think that I kept going. I wasn't going to let them who were prejudiced or who were discriminating against me hold me back or not make me successful. So what I did was, I was going to prove them wrong, too. I'm a very competitive person.

COLMES: Some of your sports competition came to mind.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

COLMES: Your basketball brand at that point, I know you did a couple of comebacks, but -- and you came back and then finally left on your terms...

JOHNSON: Right.

COLMES: ... which is the way you wanted to do it.

JOHNSON: That was very important that I did that, because I'd helped this game grow and get to where it is today. And I didn't want to go out on somebody else's terms. I wanted to go out on my terms.

And once I did that, then I jumped into establishing my business brand. And now it's amazing where it is today, as when we look back 17 years ago, where it was then.

COLMES: You still -- now you tell me whenever whatever city you're in, you try to have a night to go and see whatever team is in town. And you love going to the game.

Do you still want to get out there on that court? Is there still that desire?

JOHNSON: No. No desire to play basketball at all. I love business. I love helping urban communities grow. I love putting people to work of color. I love making sure -- like right now the whole mortgage crisis, I want to help people get back into their homes.

Basketball is over for me. I still get my fix, because I'm a minority owner of the Lakers. So I still get a chance to be involved because of that, but other than that...

COLMES: As an owner now, not as a player.

JOHNSON: Not as a player.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: I felt like Herve Villechaize.

HANNITY: How tall are you? How tall are you?

COLMES: Six feet.

HANNITY: I'm six feet.

COLMES: Yes, we're the same height.

HANNITY: You look very small.

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