With prayers unanswered, Lakers turn to Magic

In his first 20 days as consultant to ownership with the Lakers, Magic Johnson has taken control. His advisement has led Jeanie Buss to fire her own brother and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak. Magic was one of the best players the NBA has ever seen, but so what?

Jim [Buss] is calling the shots. I want him to understand I’m just here to lend advice.

Magic on being hired as Lakers consultant 20 days before taking Jim Buss’ job.

What the Lakers apparently need more than ever is a face behind the franchise that exudes confidence. They need the swagger, the cache, the public relations, and the smile that makes up Magic.

He’s already made his first trade, already made some public comments, and already has Lakers fans more excited than they’ve been in a few seasons.

Magic is magic. He quickly became the poster boy for the fantastic Lakers Showtime teams of the 1980s by having one of the most dominating performances in NBA Finals history his rookie year in 1980. With Kareem back in LA resting a sprained ankle, the rookie started as center and helped bring the championship to Los Angeles.

After being the face of the franchise for years, he was diagnosed with HIV and boldly stepped into the spotlight with a disease that many knew little about. He fought his battle publicly, honestly, and nobly. He has lived with the incurable disease since and started the Magic Johnson Foundation to help raise money and awareness. He’s done it all with his indelible smile and inimitable charisma.

What I want to do is try to just, little by little build the Lakers back up to where they should be.

Magic Johnson

Revisionist history has Magic as the perfectionist athlete who went on to make innumerable wise business decisions to turn his fortune into true wealth. His failures have been kept at bay, including The Magic Hour where he was crushed by Howard Stern in public, his underwhelming 5-11 record as temporary head coach for the Lakers, and his absolutely horrendous and sometimes embarrassing tweets.


The Lakers and their fans have everything to gain from Magic entering the front office and Magic has hardly anything to lose. After only 20 days as a special advisor, he has managed to shake things up in a way that the Lakers haven’t seen since Jerry Buss died. But a sister firing her own brother? Is this what Magic really needs to get into? A squabbling family that would make great reality TV might not be the best front office of a billion dollar company. Maybe it’s crazier there than we all think.

 

There have been previous owners who were crazy (Donald Sterling, anyone?), but they didn’t hire one of the most revered NBA stars to right the ship. We’ve seen stars take over front office roles and succeed before, but ownership has at least been stable. It’s difficult to imagine John Elway going into the Browns organization and winning a Super Bowl that quick. Good thing Magic never had to work for someone truly as crazy as Donald Sterling. Here’s what the ex-owner thinks of Magic Johnson. (Skip ahead to the 3 minute mark if your short on time, it’ll tell you everything you need to know in about 6 seconds.)

 

We all want Magic to succeed, for his sake, the fans, and LA. Basketball is better when the Lakers don’t stink. If Magic isn’t the answer than what is?

This is a big time move from one of the biggest franchises in sports history. Johnson’s pull as an ex player will hopefully bring free agents in, his concrete business acumen will hopefully bring stability back to the franchise, and his smile will hopefully bring back the trust of the fans. There is a lot of hope resting on Magic. Jeanie Buss knows this and has placed the future success of the franchise in his hands.

 

If the Lakers are truly as disheveled as they seem from the outside it might take more than Magic to fix the franchise. But if Magic isn’t qualified for the job than who is? Phil Jackson?