Posted Nov 6 2008 1:18AM
LOS ANGELES -- Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson said he and his wife "cried all night" after Barack Obama beat John McCain to become the country's first African-American president.
"He can motivate people," Johnson said Wednesday night at halftime of the Clippers-Lakers game at Staples Center. "He crossed all racial lines. One of the smartest men I have ever seen as a political figure, common sense as well.
"It's the right time. We have some big problems in America."
Johnson said not only did he not believe as a kid growing up in Michigan that there wouldn't be an African-American president in his lifetime, he had doubts the country was ready to make such a decision while Obama was running.
The Hall of Famer supported Hillary Clinton for president until Obama won the Democratic nomination.
"I'm loyal to the Clintons," Johnson said. "I'm a loyal person, just like now with Barack. I'll be loyal to him. I told her if she ever ran, I would support her, and I did.
"When he beat Hillary, and Hillary made him work for it, it helped him beat McCain."
Johnson smiled when asked the first thing he did when it was announced Tuesday night just after 8 p.m. in California that Obama had won the presidency.
"Jumped up for joy, we were hollering and screaming," he said. "And then we started crying. As African-Americans we've made great strides. I think what this says is you can really become anything in life you want to become. It's really a wonderful thing that we can be able to witness this."
Johnson said he believes Obama is prepared to do the best possible job.
"He's a motivator. He has a plan," Johnson said. "One thing Barack can do, he can come in a room, command a room. Everyone will listen to every word."
Johnson said he'll do whatever possible to help the president-elect, but only in the private sector.
"That's what I do best," Johnson said. "Ninety-one cities, 22 states, I have businesses. That's where I can help if he asks me to help.
"I'm looking forward to him making drastic changes. I think he will definitely bring changes to America and around the world."
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