When my phone buzzed last night informing me that the Los Angeles Dodgers had a new owner, the feelings were hard to describe. The name at the end of the sentence could have been anyone, really, but it wasn’t. It was Magic Johnson.
The rush of euphoria rivaled that of playoff victories from years ago. The Dodgers were finally escaping the wrath of the McCourts. While the team on the field remains unchanged, the weight that has been lifted off their shoulders must be liberating.
As I mentioned, however, the name at the end of the text could have been anyone and the feeling might have been the same at first glance. The more I thought about things, however, and the more things set in, I realized just how wrong I was.
Magic Johnson and his group provide Los Angeles with more than any of the other groups could. The sense of joy I feel now goes beyond knowing that someone else will be sitting in the owner’s suite, it’s there because that person just might be Magic Johnson some nights.
Once the euphoria subsided, the first thing on my mind swung to the question of what had happened with the parking lots.
At first the thought was reassuring – “for $2.15 billion the Guggenheim Partners better have gotten the lots.”
Then the news turned sour – Frank was retaining some interests in the parking lots. Great, I thought, five-dollar increases in parking prices for the rest of my life.
This morning, however, the news swung back into Magic’s favor – while Frank would have a stake in the parking lots, any changes or developments needed agreement with the ownership group. And, the owners hold the power to veto anything.
Magic and his friends were one-for-one.
The next bit of good news came with the arrival of Stan Kasten.
Kasten, who will become a minority owner of the Dodgers, has a resume as good as they get. His career in sports began in Atlanta when he became general manager of the Atlanta Hawks at age 27, a position he held from 1979-1990.
During that time, the Hawks notched four consecutive 50-win seasons and Kasten became the only executive to ever win back-to-back “NBA Executive of the Year” awards.
In 1986, Kasten became the team’s President while also making his entrance into Major League Baseball as the President of the Atlanta Braves concurrently. Kasten eventually became President of the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League as well, and held all three positions until 2003.
During his time in Atlanta, the Braves won more games than any other franchise from 1987-2003.
Moral of the story: Magic and friends were two-for-two.
So with the future of fan relations and management seemingly in place, it seems the new ownership group was everything fans could have hoped for.
If you ask me, however, I think Magic brings one more thing to the table.
While it appears money will no longer be a problem in luring free agents to Los Angeles, the lure of playing for Magic Johnson might just put players over the top.
The same effect has been talked about with Jay-Z owning a small stake in the Nets, and it may have been the effect of John Elway’s presence in Denver that brought Peyton Manning to town.
Magic played in the NBA from 1979-1991, when he was forced to retire due to his battle with HIV and AIDS. To think that any baseball player who grew up a basketball fan would be unaffected by Magic’s presence seems naïve to me.
I’m not saying free agents will start flocking to Los Angeles to hang out with Magic, but I think it’s a slight advantage that the Dodgers would be wise to utilize.
“Dodgers Announce agreement to sell team to group that includes Magic Johnson” – March 27 at 8:25 p.m.
Man am I glad it was Magic Johnson’s name at the end of that text.