The Los Angeles Lakers made a splashy move when they hired Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations last February, ousting a front office run by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak in the blink of an eye. It seems the Lakers weren’t the only, or first, team to reach out to Johnson with the opportunity to run the show.
The Magic Man re-emerging as part of the Lakers organization wasn’t necessarily surprising — his love for the franchise has always left that possibility as an open door. That he was interested in taking over as the top basketball decision maker in an NBA front office seemingly came out of nowhere.
The idea may have been brewing for some time for Johnson, though. Magic was a guest on ESPN’s First Take and revealed that he turned down at least three offers before accepting his job with the Lakers.
“I turned down three jobs. My good friends Peter [Guber] and Joe [Lacob], they bought the Golden State Warriors. They came to me, ‘I want you to be an owner, a partner with us.’ I said ‘No, I’m a Laker.’ My friend bought the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores, and a Michigan State Guy. ‘Come on home It’d be a great story.’ ‘I can’t, I’m a Laker.’ I could’ve owned other teams,” Magic said.
Stephen A. Smith also noted that the New York Knicks also contacted him, with Magic confirming that current Knicks team president Steve Mills called him while he still held the general manager role.
While he may be kicking himself for not getting in as part of the Golden State Warriors’ ownership group, that he wound up with the Lakers as the top dog may bandage that wound over time. That’s loyalty to the purple and gold.