LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Magic Johnson is one of the most successful athletes on and off the field of play, winning titles in the NBA, college and high school and making millions in business.

The Hall of Fame basketball player and an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers said he lost a lot with the loss of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

“He made me the man I am today,” Johnson said Tuesday night, a day after Buss died. “Forget just the basketball player, but the man that I am. I owe a lot to Dr. Buss.

“I think the reason I own the Dodgers today is because of Dr. Buss and his expertise of giving me sound business advice and making sure I took care of my money and things of that nature.”

Johnson spoke to reporters about Buss before working as an analyst for ESPN when No. 4 Michigan State hosted top-ranked Indiana.

“Dr. Buss was my second father,” Johnson said. “He would want me to carry on and live life. I made a commitment to ESPN to be here so I’m here, but I’ll never forget Dr. Buss. I’m constantly in touch with the Buss family to make sure of the arrangements and what’s going on. His spirit still lives through me. So I’m going to continue to be a good man and person, just like he was.”

A memorial service Buss will be Thursday across from Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Lakers say the service at Nokia Theatre is for invited guests only and isn’t open to the public. Buss died Monday at age 80 of kidney failure after struggling with cancer over the last 18 months. He will be honored before the Lakers host the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, the year Johnson led the Spartans to their first NCAA basketball title. Johnson helped Buss win half of his 10 NBA titles.


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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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