The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled for far too long in recent years. The team has vastly underperformed for an organization that has won 16 NBA Championships. In a series of moves to get the team back on track, the historic franchise fired general manager Mitch Kupchack and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.
After Lakers President and team owner Jeanie Buss fired her own brother, she then named Magic Johnson president of basketball operations, reporting directly to her. While the news that the Lakers are bringing the magic back to Los Angeles have some excited, others are not so sure.
After Jeanie Buss cleaned house and hired Johnson, Earvin “Magic” Johnson then moved quickly to hire former Kobe Bryant agent Rob Pelinka as the Lakers general manager. Magic Johnson’s list of accomplishments on the court are well-known and range from Olympic Gold Medals to NBA Championships. He's also two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Magic Johnson brings far more than just his knowledge of the game of basketball:
What many people may not know, however, is that Magic Johnson is also a highly successful businessman: he owns a billion-dollar conglomerate that he started back in 1987. Magic Johnson has also been involved with the Lakers off the court in various capacities for several years, but he has never run a NBA franchise in any official capacity. Magic does have an ownership stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Los Angeles Football Club, so he is both a successful businessperson and has some knowledge of owning/operating a professional sports team.
This was not a hasty decision by the Lakers:
The move may seem abrupt or perplexing to some, but it appears now that this plan was several weeks in the making. The Lakers brought Magic Johnson on 3 weeks ago to serve as an “advisor” to the team. That move now appears to be a mere ploy to get Magic on staff and up to speed ahead of the NBA trade deadline on February 23rd at 3pm eastern time. Conversely, others are reporting that Kupchack and Buss’ failure to land DeMarcus Cousins ultimately led to their dismissal.
Mere hours after the announcement, Magic Johnson made his first deal by trading the Lakers scoring leader Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for a first round pick in the NBA draft along with Corey Brewer. It is a move that demonstrates Magic Johnson’s commitment to developing the young group of talent on the Lakers roster.
There is good cause for concern for Lakers fans:
While this may be Magic Johnson’s dream come true, others are not so convinced that this was the right move for the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. Some have pointed out that the Lakers bringing back Magic Johnson is not forward-looking, or lacks imagination. Others point to Magic’s rather unfortunate series of tweets that left many wondering if he had lost it.
There is good cause for optimism for Lakers fans:
Still, there is reason for optimism. Many are comparing Magic Johnson to another former Los Angeles Laker legend both on and off the court: Jerry West. West was the Lakers general manager that oversaw the team’s success in the 1980s as well as bringing in Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and Phil Jackson. Magic just might bring the same bravado and player respect that made the NBA’s most talented players want to come to Los Angeles.
As with most major news stories, everyone seems to have an opinion as to how these moves by the Lakers will pan out and whether or not Johnson is up to the task of returning the Lakers to their former glory. Some say that this was a power move by the Lakers to end years of rumored infighting among the ownership. Who knows? Maybe Jeanie Buss and the Lakers are just trying to bring the magic back to Los Angeles.
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