Jobu weighs in on Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Baseball Partners and their purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Magic’s refusal to leave the public spotlight.
I feel like this is a post that needs to be written every 3-5 years. Just when you think Magic Johnson is gone for good, he somehow comes back into the picture! Just when I thought I was out… Magic bought the Dodgers. Touché, Magic… Touché.
If you haven’t heard, Magic is part of a group called Guggenheim Baseball Partners. They recently put down a $2.15BB (that’s billion) in a bid to purchase Frank McCourt’s Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that many experts believed was valued somewhere around $1BB or even $1.1BB (the amount the Dolphins were sold for last year). But let’s forget the fact that Magic could have bought most of the AL Central with the money he paid for just the Dodgers. Forget the fact that they’re inheriting a mess of an organization that was almost part of a divorce settlement. Forget all of that. What the hell is Magic Johnson doing owning a baseball team?
The answer to that is simple. The man refuses to go away. He’s kind of like herpes. You can treat it, and it can go away for a time, but it’s always there looking to break out and ruin your day (or so I’ve heard…) at the drop of a hat, or, in this case, $2.15BB. Oh Dammit! Magic’s back, and he’s spreading! I mean… really?
Anyway, let’s take a look at the top four “Go Away Magic Johnson” moments.
4. 1994 – Magic Returns to the Lakers… As a Coach?
That’s right, folks. Just two years removed from his retirement, Magic was back on the court with the Lakers, except he was wearing a suit (and a ridiculous tie). He was hired to replace Larry Pfund in a year where the lakers were struggling mightily… Magic didn’t help. After losing eleven out of the sixteen games he coached, Magic retired and, instead, bought a 5% share of the team. He shouldn’t have been there coaching in the first place, because he really wasn’t fit. It seems like more of a publicity move to me, to appease Lakers’ fans who were tired of seeing their team struggle.
3. 1995 – Magic Returns to the Lakers… As a Power Forward??
Just when you thought you’d seen the last of Magic on an NBA court, he once again came back to the Lakers in 1995. Only this time, he was no longer running the floor as the point guard. Magic had bulked up quite a bit during his retirement (not in the good way), and so the Lakers deemed that he wasn’t fit to run the floor as he did for the Showtime Lakers in the late 80s and early 90s. He was still 6’8″, however, so his considerable waistline made him a good candidate for Power Forward. Magic played decently, averaging 14.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 32 games. Not bad for a 36-year-old. The Lakers even made the playoffs that year, losing in the first round to the Houston Rockets. Finally able to retire on his own terms, Magic left the spotlight again after that season. A fitting end to a great career… but you don’t really think that would be it for Magic, do you?
2. The Magic Hour – 1998
I don’t even know what to say about this travesty. Because of his larger-than-life personality, someone thought it would be a good idea to let Magic host a late-night talk show that would air in syndication all over the country. In my area, the show aired on UPN, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life. As much as Magic shined under the spotlights on an NBA Court, he was awkward and nervous as a late-night talk show host. The show was ridiculed by everyone, including MadTV, and subsequently cancelled after eight weeks. No really… go away Magic!
1. Magic Buys the Dodgers?
We discussed this above, so I’m not going to get into it too much, but Magic has once again weaseled his way into the public eye. This time, after seemingly exhausting every basketball-related public venture at his disposal, he has turned his attention to baseball. In the ultimate “Eff you, Jobu” move, magic has encroached on my favorite sport, baseball. Now, when I’m watching Dodgers games on my MLB.tv account, I’ll have to see his goofy smile as he sits in a luxury box, hobnobbing with whoever he invites to the game. Grr….
I’d like to talk briefly about Magic’s retirement in 1991. As much as I hated Magic and the Lakers back then (I grew up on a steady diet of Larry Bird and the Celtics), it was still pretty crazy when Magic made the announcement that he had HIV and would be forced to retire. I was only nine years old, so I can’t really say I was devastated. I just knew something crazy was happening. Looking back on it though (especially with the state of Magic’s current health), I think the biggest tragedy was his aborted comeback in 1992.
After being voted into the NBA All-Star game in 1992 (despite being officially retired), Magic was named MVP of the game. Magic then joined the “Dream Team” for their gold medal run in the 1992 Summer Olympics. Magic met a lot of opposition during that time, and several NBA players openly commented on the fact that they didn’t want Magic to play because they feared for their safety (even some of Magic’s own Lakers teammates, like A.C. Green).
Because of the success of his All-Star Game and Olympics appearances, Magic decided to come back to the NBA for real in 1992. He was met with such a negative response from NBA players that he aborted the comeback after only a few weeks. Granted, 1992 was a much different time, and knowledge about HIV and AIDS wasn’t as vast as it is today, but I always felt bad for Magic in that sense. Other people’s ignorance kept him from continuing his amazing career. Who knows what numbers he could have ended up with if he hadn’t been forced into retirement.
At the end of the day, we have to commend Magic Johnson for the fact that, faced with a potentially terminal disease, he has not only survived, but thrived in basically all aspects of his life. He was one of the best basketball players of all time, and he has become a pretty amazing business man as well. Magic Johnson Enterprises, which he runs, is approaching $1BB in worth, and now he’s reached the apex, owning a big market professional sports team. While I want to congratulate him on that, I really wish he would just go retire somewhere and go away. We love you Magic, but go home and enjoy your hundreds of millions of dollars
Featured image courtesy of: The Associated Press
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