Any Lakers fan that is above the age of an average toddler understands in some capacity what it means to represent this brand. This is a brand that transcends sports and normal comprehension abilities. The rafters at Staples Center say it all with regard to the dizzying array of retired numbers, and, more importantly, the banners.
But one could construct the argument that no one who has ever been affiliated with the organization grasps this history better than former Michigan State product Earvin “Magic” Johnson. What is more is that he not only grasps the idea—he is a guy who has proven it time and time again on and off the court.
Recently, the team announced that Magic will play the role of a business/basketball advisor. Mmm… mmm… mmm. Such sweet, soothing music to hear. Sweeter than the sound of a Marvin Gaye hit playing on the radio. It’s sweet because this is a person who is not even just connected with basketball history. He is connected with Los Angeles in general. He is arguably the aorta of the city as silly as that may appear to the eye.
The meaning behind that may not make logical sense to everyone, and, truth be told, it is fair to postulate that really nobody can make complete sense out of it. Perhaps the strongest way to boil it all down is the following: continually, Magic discerns not only how to bring a group of people together, but discerns how to actually get the various cogs to function cohesively. It’s a special gift that is incredibly difficult to come by. Incredibly.
Even though some would disagree, the NBA is not quite the same as it was years and years ago. It is not an in-and-out game as present as it used to be. There is not the same level of activity insofar as getting everyone involved, you know, that whole sharing the sugar cliché. A lot of it is driven by who can shoot the rock from the outside the best. Certain contests are literally shootouts more or less, and granted it can be exciting to peruse at moments when such shots are falling through the net, indeed, it can also be icky to view when the opposite prevails. It is not what Mr. Naismith originally designed so long ago—that is for sure.
Basketball wise, this is where Magic could be of service. Alas, he can no longer play, needless to say. Those days are long gone. Still, that takes nothing away from the mind he possesses, that acumen. He has this deeper grasp for the game that cannot be taught. It is as if he was born with it. It is almost eerie to think about, yet it is difficult to have a stance that would counteract this point. As a result, it is germane to pose that Magic could be a teacher for a Lakers group that is still learning.
It could be a matter of him giving detailed notes to personnel such as Luke Walton, offering suggestions on how to better do this and that in certain sequences. Better yet, it could trickle down to having one-on-one conversations with pieces like D’Angelo Russell, their starting point guard. No one did that job better in the history of the NBA than Johnson. He is the owner of the highest assists per game average, so, listening to him is probably wise, eh? Imagine getting tips from the magician himself and the possible carry over effect. It is not to say that Magic’s presence and advice dissemination will cure the Lakers losing ways in a heartbeat, but it is a vital step. Even just one tip, out of let’s say, one hundred, carrying over would be tremendous.
That’s what makes Magic great, too. Recently, in his postgame analysis on the subject, Big Game discussed the kind of individual his former Showtime teammate was and, well, still is. Worthy explained Magic’s ability to absorb various personalities and work with them. That alone makes such an acquisition beautiful. Certainly, Magic cannot physically control the on-the-court chemistry of the purple-and-gold anymore. His towering IQ, though, speaks volumes, and, on a different note, his unexplainable smile is enough to make the darkest of places light up.
It sounds like such a weird thing to focus on, but the seemingly trivial nature of it should not cause it to be thrown aside. It reveals the kind of guy he is, and in times when it may be hard to smile, the magnitude of him could be a starting point in getting this team back to what fans are more accustomed to. The smile is inviting, and is timeless. Let alone there being a million other attributes, such an engaging demeanor is likely why Jeanie Buss swooped in and made such a move.
In an article posted on usasports.com entitled “Magic Johnson to return to Lakers as ownership adviser,” the following words of Magic himself should be encouraging to supporters of the franchise: “‘Everyone knows my love for the Lakers,’ Johnson, 57, said. ‘Over the years, I have considered other management opportunities, however my devotion to the game and Los Angeles make the Lakers my first and only choice. I will do everything in my power to help return the Lakers to their rightful place among the elite teams of the NBA.’”
This could mean a variety of things for the squad. One of the bigger things to consider, though, is this. The Lakers have failed to convince any proven stars to join them in recent memory. Magic’s presence in a room could be a difference maker on the grounds that this is one of the group’s profound weaknesses. They do lack a proven leader, and the possibility of having one in the future would change the complexion of the franchise. Some could call this wishful thinking, sure. Yet, it is a possibility as was aforementioned and there is no denying it.
This is again not to say that the Lakers’ struggles will suddenly vanish. However, there is plenty of reason to be pumped up at this point. The fact of the matter, too, is that this extends beyond basketball strictly. He is a savvy, smart businessman. He has helped build up the City of Angels in ways that are not too easy to break down succinctly. To keep it as on point as possible, just look at the Dodgers. In Magic’s tenure as a partial owner, the Dodgers have been one of the best teams in the MLB (albeit, alas, the promised land has not been reached since 1988). They have, nevertheless, transformed into a force to be reckoned with. He is a winner, and desperately wants LA to have that.
In an nba.com composition entitled “Magic Johnson Discusses Role As Advisor to Lakers Ownership,” the all-time legend remarks that he sees promise in this current collection of talent. “‘That’s why I joined. If I felt we were far away and it was going to be a waste of my time, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have taken this role. I know that we have the pieces in place and we will continue to get better.’”
With all of this in mind, fans should be thrilled to have Magic back in this role. His actual role with the team is admittedly ambiguous, but let’s just leave it at this for the time being. This is Magic we’re talking about. In 1979, when he first joined the league, he was nothing more than a sparkling nickname. Now, everyone knows he has that classic nickname for a reason. He’s earned that privilege. With respect to any decision he makes, it is bound to make some kind of difference. That’s who he is, and he has consistently delivered over and over.
So, even though it is extremely, extremely difficult to be patient at this stage, bouncing back may be more so on the horizon than many think. It may seem inconceivable; however, the odds have amplified, even if the amplification is not monumental per se. The future is definitely filled with unknowns; in spite of this being the case, Johnson’s hiring shall, all things being taken into account, help, as he likewise believes. Every bit of help is needed, and Magic could be precisely what the doctor ordered. Yes, only time will tell; however, it is a move that signals that the Lakers could be onto something.