Timing was right, now time will tell if Magic can revitalize Lakers
Earvin Magic Johnson is now the boss of Los Angeles’ most precious basketball team: the Lakers.
The greatest Laker of all time must now try and revitalize the worst Lakers team of all time.
The charismatic, always smiling Johnson, was handed the keys to Lakers-land on Tuesday morning after the team’s Co-Owner and Governor Jeanie Buss relieved her brother Jim — former vice president of basketball operations — and his general manager Mitch Kupchak of their duties. After three straight losing seasons, with the Lakers compiling a 84–220 record, Jeanie indicated the front office shakeup “was probably overdue.”
“The purple and gold standard really dictated that the status quo wasn’t acceptable to go from (27) wins to 21 wins to 17 wins — to watch it erode like that wasn’t Lakers basketball,” Buss said. “It wasn’t what this organization stands for, so it was time for a change.”
Even longtime team publicist and public relations director John Black got axed on Tuesday morning. While there wasn’t a ton of support on Twitter for Jim Buss or Kupchack, Black received an abundance of backing from his media colleagues that he worked side by side for the last two and a half decades.
Jeanie Buss picked the perfect time to make such a sweeping move. With a 19–39 record this season, the team is virtually out of playoff contention. At the time of the move, the Lakers still had a chance to make some trades before the deadline (which expired Thursday) and they had a couple days to digest everything before their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But now the ball is in Johnson’s court and he understands that he’s going all-in in an attempt to revive the franchise that made him “Magic.”
“I’m putting it all on the line,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “I knew that when I signed up for it. I’m good. I’m good.”
He will be good if he can help the Lakers become good again. Something Johnson preached is not an overnight project.
“It’s not going to be an easy fix, it’s going to take time,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here if it was a good situation. I know what I’m up against. Eventually we will turn it around.”
Unlike owning a business or being on a television show, this isn’t Johnson won’t be able to back out of without acting like anything happened. However, Johnson is already taking the necessary steps to get the franchise off on the right foot.
Hours after announcing Johnson taking over, he hired NBA agent Rob Pelinka. His most notable client is none other than Kobe Bryant and 20 other former and current players.
Like Johnson, Pelinka has no experience working in an NBA front office. But he represents a lot of star players in today’s game including Rockets guard James Harden. Therefore, he has an insider advantage into what players in today’s league want and talk about. And since he handles the financial aspects to a contract, he most likely mastered the new CBA by now as well.
But like a lot of things, that is something we will find out in time. A lot of things that Johnson has invested his talents, time and money in, eventually turn into something good. He has put a lot of businesses into urban communities all across the country, helping establish an economy in inner city neighborhoods. Since he and the Guggenheim group bought the Dodgers in 2012, the team’s made it to the playoffs four years in a row.
Even the Sparks have been successful.
As a Los Angeles, I love the fact that one of the greatest Lakers of all time is back with the team and wants a hand in ressurecting one of the greatest franchises in sports history. When the late great Dr. Jerry Buss was on his deathbed, according to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, he asked to see Magic, the quintessential picutre of vitality.
Only time will tell if he can revitalize the franchise.