These days, the Lakers need all the Magic they can get.
The 5-time NBA champion and Lakers legend Magic Johnson has taken over as the executive vice president of basketball operations for the LA-based basketball team. And as he himself said, “I wouldn’t be sitting here if it was a good situation.”
Magic’s worked with the Lakers for years in various capacities, though this new position sets him up in a much more official role. The appointment comes at a critical time for the franchise; the team finished last year with a 17-65 record, the worst in their history.
“I understand what I'm up against,” says Magic. “but I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul, and eventually we will turn it around."
He’s not wasting any time. As Johnson took over, he was missing a general manager -- Mitch Kupchak was let go at the same time as executive VP Jim Buss. Magic assumed the latter’s role, then promptly hired Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka to for the GM spot.
Magic’s also been working the phones for trade deals. While he’s giving a lot of power to Pelinka, he adds “Anything to do with trades… is, of course, going to end with me.”
Getting players to Los Angeles isn’t as easy as it once was. In the past, the lure of the team’s history, plus the chance to play in Hollywood, made the Lakers one of the most popular franchises to play for. That’s not been the case lately, and finding a solution to the problem doesn’t look easy.
“I'm not naive to that," said Johnson about the situation, "but I'm excited about that."
He’d later add, “You don't know that I'm a control freak. You don't get to where I am without being one. I'm going to make sure that I set the strategy, that I set the tone and that this organization is going to be about excellence on and off the court. That's what we're going to be about. And then everybody will have a clear role, and, of course, I'm a point guard, so I like to work with everybody.”
All that sounds great, but how will Magic turn around the struggling Lakers? Only time will tell.