Photo Credit-Laker Nation
A weekend that started with the much-anticipated release of Drake’s album Scorpion, concluded with arguably the greatest basketball player of all time joining the greatest franchise in all of the sports.
Using the new Scorpion album as background music, this is quite possibly the greatest weekend in recent sports memory.
And we have no one else to thank but Earvin “Magic” Johnson for that.
The man who engineered the “Showtime” era in 1979 and led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships in the 1980’s.
The man who saved the NBA, back when games were on tape delay and combined with league-wide poor ratings, it looked doomed to eventually fail.
The man who beat the HIV virus at a scary time when it was considered unbeatable.
By convincing Lebron James to join the Lakers, the most likable player in sports history just became even more likable, and who the hell thought that was even possible?
The curatorial magic man seems to still have tricks up his 58-year old sleeves.
However, what further exponentially elevates the level of appreciation and gratitude owed towards Johnson is the manner in which he convinced James. According to reports from ESPN, Johnson met with James privately at his house in Brentwood, on the West side of Los Angeles late Saturday night.
Johnson said that he knew once he looked at James eye to eye, that he could sell him on the purple and gold franchise.
Just pause and think about that.
A Laker legend and the President of Basketball Operations freaking went to go meet with a recruit at his house. This challenges the status quo, as some would argue that someone of Johnson’s stature and the legendary appeal shouldn’t have to travel and recruit. That job should be delegated to someone with a lesser role such as a general manager or coach.
Not only that but to sell James on a four-year contract, when James never signed with Cleveland for longer than two years! With this new contract, he has essentially agreed to three promised years with the Lakers, and an option to opt out after the third year.
That shows trust in Johnson, and confidence that he will be able to architect something similar to the Lakers of old.
This also represents a bit of a deviation from the past; James has traditionally signed with teams that feature another all-star player. In 2010, he signed to play with Dwyane Wade, and Chis Bosh joined them in Miami. In 2014, he signed to play with Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love joined them in Cleveland. With Paul George re-signing in Oklahoma City, and the future of Kawhi Leonard uncertain in San Antonio, James is a lone wolf for now, although he is surrounded by really good young talent in Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, while the recent signings of Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo should prove to be entertaining.
This news is earth-shattering.
Immediately after the news broke yesterday, I rushed to Staples Center in downtown LA and was greeted by cameras from local news stations and tons of hysterical fans chanting “Let’s go Lakers”, and “LBJ”.
Right outside of Staples Center, there are tons of statues featuring greats who played for the Lakers such as Shaquille O’Neal, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, and Jerry West. However, there are none that are as prominent and grand as the Magic Johnson statue.
Photo Credit-Long Room
The sculpture captures a younger Johnson running with his fingers pointed in a direction guiding his teammates. He assumes the “no-look pass” stance that he popularized that would mislead all of his opponents about the direction of his next pass.
22 years after retiring from the NBA, Johnson still assumes this exact stance, this time, however, from a comfortable office in El Segundo. Finger pointing, with the signing of James he is showing us that he is still guiding the Lakers franchise, inspiring hope amongst fans and players alike.
Part I: Showtime Lakers.
Part II: The Shaq and Kobe Lakers.
Part III: Kobe’s Lakers
Part IV: Lebron’s Showtime Lakers?
The greatest franchise in all of sports is back.
But none of it could be possible without the originator, and now we have to call him the rejuvenator.
Thank God for Magic Johnson.