Magic Johnson, recently hired as a “basketball and business adviser” to co-owner and president Jeanie Buss, wants to work with Kobe Bryant. Johnson said on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday that, if he gets to call the shots like he desires, he would immediately call Bryant to ask for help.
“First call I make if I’m in charge? Kobe Bryant,” Johnson said. “Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players. I would call: ‘What role you want? ... If you’ve got a day, just give me that day.’
“I’ll take that. Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it.”
There are two things to note here:
- Johnson seems to want to do very Lakers-y things, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. The last six years should have taught the organization that it can’t rely on the Laker mystique. Players these days care about winning and stability, and they’re less likely to be persuaded by pitches centered around the Lakers’ market size and history. Bryant is a basketball genius, and he could probably be a great front-office guy if he put the work in, but Johnson saying he’d be his “first call” is troubling, especially considering that Bryant has said he’d like to focus on storytelling projects for a while.
- It hasn’t even been two weeks since the Lakers hired him, and Johnson is already angling for more power. First, there was the USA Today interview; now there is this. The fact that Johnson is talking about what he’d do if he was in charge is much more important than the detail that he’d like to involve Bryant. The franchise is at a crossroads, and Johnson seems intent on being the guy who has final say in personnel decisions.