Lakers Fined for Tampering After Magic Johnson's Giannis Antetokounmpo Remarks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), from Greece, drives with the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers received a $50,000 fine from the NBA on Tuesday after president of basketball operations Magic Johnson made public comments about Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports initially reported the Lakers' violation of the anti-tampering rule.

Last month, the 58-year-old Basketball Hall of Famer responded to a query from Nick Friedell of ESPN.com about comparisons between himself and the Bucks superstar, since both handled the ball a lot despite their forward size.

"Oh yeah," the 6'9" Johnson said of the similarities to the 6'11" Antetokounmpo. "With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability. He plays above the rim. I never could do that. But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That's where we [have the] same thing."

At no point did he mention the Lakers. In fact, he talked about the Greek Freak's ability to bring a championship to Milwaukee, but he was effusive in his praise of the MVP candidate to Friedell:

"He's special. A man that can handle the basketball like he can and be a great—he's probably the greatest athlete we have in the league today. And then his understanding, his basketball IQ is off the chart. He not only can score for himself, but also he can pass that basketball like a point guard. So when you think about all the skills that he has, block shots, rebound, can put the ball on the floor, can score, can assist, can make the pass.

"We've never had anybody in the league like him. And also too, he's like the No. 1—he's right up with LeBron [James], with [Kevin Durant] and Steph [Curry] as the entertainer. He's an entertainer so people will go see him."

It's the second time Los Angeles has been penalized for tampering in the past six months.

In August, the NBA handed down a $500,000 fine after Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka made a "prohibited expression of interest" involving former Indiana Pacers forward Paul George after the league warned the organization following comments Johnson made about him on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Johnson later told Tania Ganguli the Los Angeles Times he offered to pay that punishment and said "I'm gonna make sure it doesn't happen anymore."


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.