Sometimes, something as simple as a nice hug can make almost all of your problems go away. Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is hoping that same caring method can be applied to a locker room that just had to hear their names in trade rumors for over a week.
On Saturday, Johnson spoke to reporters at Michigan State University and addressed the trade rumors that have been hovering over the Lakers over the past several weeks, as well the effect it had on the locker room.
Ahead of the meeting he’s supposed to have with the team this weekend, Johnson told Larry Lage of the Associated Press that he plans on giving everyone on the team a good hug and reminding them what they’re there to accomplish.
“(Trade rumors are) a part of business, it’s a part of being a professional athlete,” he said Saturday. “I’m going to hug ’em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”
However, Johnson also reiterated the comments made by general manager Rob Pelinka on Friday, saying that being involved in trade rumors is just part of the job, and that the Lakers need to shift their focus to making playoffs.
“I love our team. I love the guys,” Johnson said. “It’s a tough part of our business whether you’re mentioned in trade talk, or you get traded. It’s a tough part of professional sports, but they came together and played great against Boston. My job is to make sure we stay together as a team and stay focused on the goal, which is to make the playoffs.”
It’s true that the NBA is just a business, but these comments made by Johnson and the fact that he is flying to Philadelphia to address the team shows that he understands that there’s a human aspect to basketball as well. While the players almost surely still feel a little hurt by being involved in all of the trade rumors of the past week, this is an important step in the healing process before they try to look ahead and help the Lakers make a playoff run.