(USA TODAY) -- Earvin "Magic" Johnson joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979, drafted by owner Jack Kent Cooke. Johnson later learned what was among the reasons he was taken -- his selection by Cooke was part of the agreement for the impending sale of the Lakers to Jerry Buss.
Buss, who passed away early Monday, took the 19-year-old Michigan State player under his wing, and the two enjoyed success immediately with an NBA championship that first season together.
"Dr. Buss was just a fun-loving guy. He was very intelligent, he studied history, he could quote things. But the man was very competitive, as well," Johnson, now an ESPN NBA analyst, said on the network Monday. "He wanted to win championships. He brought all of us in to do that ... and at the same time he wanted to be friends to the players."
Johnson said Buss was a businessman, an entertainer, a visionary -- and to him, a very close friend. And more.
"He gave us everything we needed to win a championship," Johnson said. "We stayed at the best hotels, we had the best trainers, we had the best equipment. ... And sure enough, we were able to win the championship my first year, his first year. We were both rookies the same time. ...
"But he actually became my second father. He actually took me in. He took me to my first USC football game. We went every Saturday that they played at home."
Buss understood the youngster felt out of place, at first, coming from Michigan to the fast lane in Los Angeles. So, they hung out together.
"We played pool. That was our favorite thing to do," Johnson said. "He took me to Las Vegas. We hung out. Last but not least, he taught me the Laker business."
When his playing days were over, Johnson went on to own movie theaters and many businesses and contribute to numerous charitable organizations -- and become a part owner of the Lakers.
"He allowed me to look at the books. He took me through the books. That's the reason I'm a businessman today, because of Dr. Buss. He allowed me to buy into the Lakers," Johnson said. "(Next to the championships) ... it was my second greatest moment, owning the Lakers. I'm indebted to him.
"He is a man that touched so many peoples' lives. He allowed me to be one of the Buss boys."
Most recently, Johnson said Buss took great pride in Johnson buying into the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that had owned Los Angeles before Buss turned L.A. into Showtime for the Lakers.
"The first call I got when we bought the Dodgers was from Dr. Buss. I thought he bought the Dodgers, he was so happy," Johnson said. "It was just a father being proud of a son. He would always ask me, 'What's your next move?' "
When Johnson announced he had to retire from the NBA because of having the HIV virus, he said Buss was right there with him.
"He didn't know what would happen," Johnson said. "He felt, like most people, they were losing a son. Once I got going and we made the announcement and I got on the regimen .. and lived one year, then two years, then he stopped asking me how I was doing. He could see how I was doing. He was just there for me every step of the way.
"I had never seen Dr. Buss cry until that moment. That showed me he loved me and cared for me, my well being. ... Every time I had a high or low moment, he was there."
And when Johnson visited Buss one of the last times, they shared many laughs -- including a story Johnson said Buss often told about introducing him to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in Johnson's rookie season.
"Donald Sterling gives an annual beach party. It was a week before training camp and Dr. Buss took me to meet Donald Sterling," Johnson recalled. "He said, 'What are you having?' And I said some combination of cranberry juice, orange juice and pineapple juice, all together.
"When were in the hospital (recently) talking, guess what he remembers? That drink. He said, 'I'm so proud of you, never to have seen you take a drink in your life. That's why I love you. You'll always be a man to take care of your body.' He would always tell people that.
"He was a hero, a legend," Johnson said of Buss, "and I got to see him up close and personal and be part of this empire that he has built. Again, I may not have a Buss last name, but I feel like I am one, just like the other kids."