10 Reasons Magic Johnson Would Be a Great Owner for the LA Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are for sale. After almost a decade of seemingly irreparable damage done by former owner (and charlatan) Frank McCourt, the team is on the market.
This was arguably the ugliest season in the team's historic history. It started on opening day with the unfortunate beating of San Francisco Giants fan, Bryan Stow, and continued throughout the year with dismal attendance, bankruptcy negotiations and poor play on the field.
The highlights of the season of course were NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and NL MVP runner-up (although with the recent Ryan Braun situation, he may not be runner-up much longer) Matt Kemp. The two of them combined with a healthy Andre Ethier to form a great trio that any new owner would love to build around.
Several groups have come to the table sharing their interest in purchasing the team, but none as appealing as the group led by Los Angeles hero Ervin “Magic” Johnson.
I have been born and raised in Los Angeles, and as a lifelong Dodger fan there is no one that I would rather have buy my team.
Money Money Money
Every sports fan is aware of Magic Johnson’s success on the court. He is a five-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA MVP, a 12-time all star and a nine-time All-NBA First Team player.
With all of that success on the court comes financial reward.
Johnson was well paid throughout his career, and since walking away from the game of basketball, he has become a proud and proven businessman. He is very successful in his endeavors and as a result is respected throughout the business community.
If Johnson comes up with ownership, he will be partnered with Mark Walter, the CEO of Guggenheim partners, a private global financial services firm with assets of over $125 billion. The third member of the group would be Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
The money brought to the table by all three men individually and cooperatively would be something Dodger fans would embrace with open arms. The recipe for success in baseball seems to be money in most cases.
Just ask the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Something that comes with being a leader, being successful and being a champion is a drive to lead and succeed. Unlike former Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who didn’t seem to care for a second, whether his team won or lost, Magic Johnson would not accept losing.
As soon as Johnson and his group take ownership, Johnson would come together with the baseball minds around him (he has a pretty good one himself, despite what people may think) and they would discuss what the team needs and how they can get it.
Johnson has little familiarity with losing. It’s a foreign entity to him and as owner of the Dodgers he would instantly make changes that push the team in the right direction. Fans, players and the city would receive instant gratification.
As I touched on earlier, since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers, Johnson has gone on to pursue many unique business endeavors and he has been successful throughout his post-basketball life.
He runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company with a net worth of over $700 million. He was a minority owner in the Los Angeles Lakers, owning 4.5 percent of the team until he sold his stake in October of 2010 (to pursue ownership of the Dodgers many speculated). He often does motivational speaking, and has of course done NBA commentating for Turner Network Television and now for ESPN.
Johnson has shown a constant willingness to learn from the world around him, adapt to his surroundings and push himself to new and better things. His success in the business world will pay dividends when he is in the owner’s box at Chavez Ravine.
Johnson being approached by Stan Kasten and Mark Walter is the first of many signs that he will be receiving an incredible amount of support. Johnson is loved and respected nationwide for his on the court, off the court and charitable ventures.
He is the kind of man that through his in own struggles (his battle with HIV particularly) has garnered support from all corners of the globe. That support would truly come full circle when he is officially named owner of the team.
Whether the support comes financially in the form of investors, or in the form of young and up-and-coming stars professing their interest in playing in Los Angeles (something NBA players do often), Johnson would be supported.
One thing is for sure: A player like Kasten who brought the Nationals Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper is just what Los Angeles needs.
Something attributed to the recent decline in baseball ratings when compared to the NBA or the NFL is a lack of star power. Sure, the league has $25 million-a-year guys like Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez, and yes they just had arguably their best postseason in over a decade, but something is still missing.
They do not have the courtside eye candy of a Los Angeles Lakers game or a Boston Celtics game. They definitely don’t have the hype that surrounds NFL Sunday. The MLB should embrace Magic Johnson because of the star power that comes with that five letter first name.
Magic himself is a star, as big as they come in the world of sports. If given a shot to own and run the team, he would make moves to bring in stars of the sport and, in doing so, attract support from the star-laden city the team resides in.
Johnson owning the team would be a change of pace for baseball, one they secretly and desperately desire.
For a while there, as a Los Angeles native, I thought that the best choice to fill McCourt’s seat was Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. That opinion changed when Mark Cuban pushed David Stern to veto the Chris Paul trade last week. Cuban is short a few million fans in Los Angeles right about now.
Despite other big Los Angeles names showing interest in buying the team, such as CNN’s Larry King and former Los Angeles Dodgers Steve Garvey and Ron Cey, I do believe, having been raised in the city, that there is nobody we would rather have in the owner’s box than Magic.
When he says things like this, how can you not approve (via ESPN):
“We want to win. Not only do we have the guy who can write the check to buy the team, but we have to have somebody who can acquire quality people and talent, and Stan knows how to do that better than anybody.”
The fans, and Matt Kemp in that picture, will approve. I know I do.
Johnson said recently, speaking on his love for the Dodgers, “People forget, when I was here as a player, that was in the heyday of the Dodgers, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey. I used to go to their games, and they’d come to our games.”
Johnson thrived in Los Angeles at the same time that the Dodgers did. Tommy Lasorda, Fernando Valuenza and the Kirk Gibson Magic of the 1980s all ran parallel to “Showtime” at the Great Western Forum.
As such, Johnson is more than familiar with the good that can come from both the Dodgers and the Lakers thriving on the highest of levels. He saw it firsthand and he misses it, as does the city he lives in.
Over Thirty Years in LA
Johnson was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, where he played high school basketball and moved on to play basketball at Michigan State. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers first overall in the 1979 draft and has not looked back.
The future owner of the team, despite Mark Cuban’s whispers of being interested, should be either a Los Angeles native or someone that has and continues to reside in the city fans love so much.
Magic Johnson has embraced the city over 30-plus years.
Having established roots, businesses and friendships in the city can only help Johnson in pursuing ownership and than being a successful owner.
Renewed Television Contract
A major player in the Frank McCourt bankruptcy drama this season was the pending television contract Frank McCourt claimed to have lined up with Fox Sports. McCourt claimed it was worth over $3 billion dollars and that was the money he needed to stay afloat.
One thing led to another, McCourt didn't get the contract, lost his team, and now we are where we are today. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, along with the signing of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, also signed a lucrative television contract of their own. That trio of deals really puts the pressure on the new Dodger owner.
He thrives under pressure. Known for his late-game heroics and clutch performances on the court, Johnson would see the Angels' new moves as a challenge. One thing about Magic, thanks to his Lakers credentials, he could easily renew a deal with Fox Sports that would get his team publicity and solid financial backing.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak Approves
Los Angeles natives love us some Mitch Kupchak, or we did before he traded Lamar Odom and a Kardashian for nothing. The reality is this: Kupchak is a proven businessman himself and a talented general manager. He knows how to succeed and does so frequently.
Kupchak spoke on Johnson seeking ownership of the Dodgers giving his sign of approval, saying (via LA Times):
The reasons go beyond winning five NBA championships and winning over L.A., though that's part of it. Johnson's proved through his business ventures with the Lakers, Starbucks and Detroit City Partners that he brings the same enthusiasm and competitiveness as an owner as he did as an NBA star.
Kupchak speaking kindly and positively of Johnson as an owner will pay dividends amongst Angelinos, but should also reverberate to Commissioner Bud Selig's office.
Johnson will be a perfect fit; Kupchak knows it and so should baseball.