The Magic Johnson story just keeps getting bigger
You’d have to look long and hard to find a more interesting, intriguing, compelling (I’m not even sure what the right word would be) sports figure of last half century or so than Magic Johnson.
The breadth of his life, publicly at least, has been astounding.
We knew him as a smiley-faced teen re-energizing NCAA basketball.
We knew him as a smiley-faced young man re-energizing NBA basketball, revolutionizing the game with the Showtime Lakers, a freak of nature 6-9 point guard who played even the drudgery of the regular season with unabridged joy and who was at his best when titles were on the line.
But forget that, actually, if you can. It’s all well and good that he played a kid’s game with a kid’s attitude, all smiles and fun and upbeat and up-tempo and the Lakers with him were a joy to watch.
When news came down last night that his group had been the successful bidders to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers (a cool $2 billion, it says in this dispatch) you kind of just shook your head in amazement.
There are those who want our athletes to use their power and their pedestal and their iconic status for the good of the greater cause.
No one – well, very few that I can think of in the world of professional sports since I’ve been hanging around the games – has done it like Magic.
Yes, you have David Robinson and the school he founded in San Antonio, and Jalen Rose and the incredible work his foundation is doing with education in Detroit and I’m sure there are others doing similar work.
But Magic? Magic has given hope and support and brought education to the fore in so many areas it’s incredible.
He became one of the leaders of the HIV campaign after his startling revelation 20 years ago and what he’s done to raise money and awareness since then is nothing short of amazing.
He became a wildly-successful businessman in his post-playing career; with theatres and coffee shops and sundry other endeavours that showed all athletes that there was a chance to make a difference in the economic lives of fans aside from bringing them joy on the court.
Now to own one of the iconic sports franchises ever – one that needs some kind of recovery from the mess left by the previous ownership – cements him as a guy who actually did something grand once the games were over.
Far too many great athletes simply pay lip service to making a difference in the world when they’re done playing before they fade off into their lives, the television studio or periodic appearances at charitable events.
Magic built an empire all while serving as a beacon for the fight against HIV.
This may not be the crowning moment of his post-career work but it is another giant step for a giant of our times.
To quote a sitcom icon:
People sure get defensive, or offensive, or whatever, when it’s pizza talk, don’t they?
This has all the makings of Jose-TJ to stir the passions if you wade through all the comments yesterday.
Last word? For now, at least?
Here’s Zorro’s piece, he’s the guy who landed in the office and was asked to come up with the follow-up story.
Sure, they embarrassed here with that get-up last night but, honestly? As a dancer she makes a great tennis icon.
Now this may cause a bit of a quandary.
Got news late last night – think the news landed while I was napping, actually – that Jerryd Bayless has a torn oblique muscle and he’ll miss the rest of the regular season.
The quandary is not whether or not Ben Uzoh can adequately fill the backup point guard role, that’s relatively inconsequential. The quandary is whether or not the Raptors feel confident enough in what they’ve seen from Bayless so far to make any longer-term commitment to him in the summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.
Maybe they have, but some of the people I’ve spoken to were looking to this last month to determine precisely what they had in the young guard.
The backcourt is going to need some reconstruction over the summer, far more so than the frontcourt, and if there are any lingering questions about where Jerryd fits, it’s not good at all that he’ll have missed this last month.
I feel terrible for the kid; he wanted to play in Chicago, wanted to play the second half of the Orlando game after he was hurt again and getting those MRI results on Monday had to be a huge blow.
For him and his employers.
No one’s going to mention that the pucks have been mathematically eliminated from the post-season before the HOTH, right?
There are days when it’s kind of boring to go to practice with these fellows, it’s hard to come up with a story that’s truly interesting and can be told well. We’re often standing around perplexed, wondering if the day’s missive will be something pedestrian like an injury update or a look ahead to the next team.
Those are all legit stories, don’t get me wrong, it’s that they don’t really energize you and they’ve been done so often they are almost done by rote.
It’s especially true with this group, all fine young men who are more than willing to chat with us each day but there aren’t too many great tales left to tell. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way it is; as I said, it’s a good group but there’s not a Reggie Evans quote machine among ‘em.
Then we get a new guy and all of a sudden Alan Anderson’s story turns into a moment of revitalization, he gives good anecdotes and has a life’s story to tell.
It’s kind of cool and as the grunts departed the practice facility, there was a spring in our steps. Not bad for the dog days of the season.
Mail? Yeah, we’d better start.