Apple TV Plus Takes Shot with Magic Johnson Documentary

Apple TV Plus hits the basketball court April 22 with a new documentary on the life and career of NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, but They Call Me Magic doesn't play in the same arena as ESPN’s successful sports doc The Last Dance, according to Johnson.

The four-part series follows Johnson’s trek from humble beginnings in Lansing, Michigan to becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. It also details the basketball icon's battle with HIV and his evolution into a successful entrepreneur. 

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While some viewers may look to compare the documentary with ESPN's 2020 Michael Jordan-focused The Last Dance sports documentary, Johnson -- speaking at a Television Critics Association Press Tour panel on the series this past February -- said that They Call Me Magic reaches well beyond his basketball career.

The Last Dance was all about basketball and Michael's mindset and attitude toward winning … this is about my family and this is about me being a businessman,” Johnson said. “So it's so many different things that you're going to get out of this documentary and it's totally different from The Last Dance.” ■

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.