The Los Angeles Lakers have welcomed back Magic Johnson, the legendary point guard that was the face of the Showtime era and brought five championships to L.A. While Johnson is returning in an advisory role, the club’s front office aren’t the only ones hoping to get a little advice.
Second-year guard D’Angelo Russell also intends to take advantage of Johnson’s resurgent ties to the Lakers, hoping to soak up some knowledge from the greatest point guard of all time. Russell took a moment to express his intentions to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
“He’s ready to work with me every opportunity he gets,” Russell said. “I feel like whatever he has to offer, I’m gonna be a sponge.
It may be something of a surprise that Johnson would have an interest in working with Russell, as he infamously coached the Lakers during part of the 1993-1994 season, and didn’t particularly enjoy himself. In fact, Johnson describes coaching as the worst time in his life:
“Dr. Buss wanted me to coach for 16 games, and that was the worst time in my life,” Johnson said, referring to the late Jerry Buss, longtime Lakers owner and Jeanie and Jim’s father. “I never wanted to be a coach. Coaching is difficult. You’ve gotta deal with egos, playing time and all of that. That’s not a specialty of mine. But I understand the game inside and out.”
Still, as Johnson mentions, he does have a deep understanding of basketball, and working one-on-one with a player like Russell is not the same as managing an entire team. While Russell can’t match Johnson’s 6’9″ frame or passing instincts, he is still a big guard at 6’5″, and has the ability to occasionally throw some truly special passes.
It’s not clear how much time Johnson will have available to work with Russell, but there is no doubt that, even in limited doses, personal advice from Johnson could be extremely beneficial.