C's Believe Magic Will Restore Rivalry with Lakers
LOS ANGELES – Boston’s most hated rival hasn’t been much of a rival of late. The Celtics, however, believe that will change soon thanks to Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Johnson was named as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers on Feb. 21, three days ahead of the 2017 NBA trade deadline. He took over the reins of a franchise that has won 27 or fewer games during each of the last three seasons and is on pace for only 25 wins this season.
Los Angeles hasn’t appeared in the postseason since the 2012-13 NBA Playoffs.
The Lakers have attempted to alter their future over the past few seasons by luring in premium free agents all while stockpiling high draft selections. That plan has not come to fruition, as they have continuously struck out on the former goal.
LA, which had long been considered the top free-agent destination in the league, has not been able to acquire a high-level talent via trade or free agency since acquiring Pau Gasol in 2008. The closest thing since then is likely the signing of Ron Artest, who is now known as Metta World Peace, in the summer of 2009.
According to multiple members of the Celtics, however, that streak will be ending sooner rather than later as a result of Johnson’s arrival.
“Some superstar is gonna come here,” Isaiah Thomas said with a grin of confidence at Friday morning’s shootaround at Staples Center. “Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever, so to have him (at the) head of all of that and making decisions is a step in the right direction.
“Everybody respects him,” Thomas continued. “The Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now, forever. They’re definitely going to be (good again). He’ll bring some people here, for sure.”
Amir Johnson, who grew up in Los Angeles as a Lakers fan, believes that Magic’s success not only as a basketball player but also as a business man will draw the attention of premier free agents.
“He’s a great example of business after basketball,” Amir Johnson said. In regard to Magic’s basketball acumen, the Celtics big man added, “’I’m pretty sure he has a lot of respect around the league. He’s a Hall-of-Famer, and I guess that definitely holds all the weight. He definitely knows what he’s talking about.”
That’s two Celtics players who are now on record for predicting great success by Magic Johnson as a Lakers executive. One of Boston’s coaches holds a similar belief.
Walter McCarty, who knows the Celtics-Lakers rivalry quite well after playing seven-plus seasons for the C’s and now coaching for them for the past four seasons, is friends with Magic. The two actually spoke about the impending move over All-Star weekend in New Orleans, so McCarty knows how excited Magic is to lead the Lakers in a new direction. McCarty is also well aware of the lure Magic will add to an already enticing free-agent destination.
“Not that the Lakers need to be able to recruit players, because the Lakers recruit themselves in free agency,” McCarty told Celtics.com, “but I think he knows all of the players, and who wouldn’t want to come be a part of a situation with Magic having influence and the type of career that he had?”
The Lakers have always been able to offer up their rich history, the sunny weather and the beaches, but now they have a touch of Magic to offer to the free-agent pool.
That’s why the Celtics believe that their rivalry with the West Coast’s juggernaut will be revived at the highest level of competition in the very near future.