Former NBA Commissioner David Stern is persona-non-grata to Los Angeles Lakers fans after his involvement in the infamous “basketball reasons” veto that undid a trade for superstar Chris Paul back in 2011. Since then, the Lakers have experienced one setback after another, from the departures of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to a terrible Achilles injury to Kobe Bryant. The team has now missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, but Stern has faith in new president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson.
While the timing was a bit odd, it wasn’t surprising that president Jeanie Buss picked Magic Johnson to succeed her brother Jim, who she fired just days before the NBA trade deadline in February. After all, it was Johnson who was the heart of the Showtime-era Lakers, a team that is remembered fondly for their incredible success. Stern, who ran the NBA during the meteoric rise of the league thanks in part to Johnson’s Showtime team, still think fondly of Johnson, via the Nunyo and Company Podcast:
“I only have one thought about Magic: I love him. That’s it. And I wish him well; and he’s so industrious and applied that I’m sure he’s going to do well.”
Johnson has a tall task ahead of him as he hopes to rebuild his beloved Lakers and bring them back to the top of the NBA mountain. The team was fortunate to keep their top-three protected pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, which will give Johnson and new General Manager Rob Pelinka an opportunity to add another intriguing young talent to their roster.
Of course, despite being new to the job, there is plenty of optimism that Johnson’s true strength will be in free agent meetings. He has stated that the Lakers are unlikely to make a big splash this summer, but when the time comes, there may not be anyone on the planet who can sell winning in Los Angeles like Johnson can.
While fans may still hold a grudge against Stern, they have to hope that he is right about Johnson’s eventual success with the team.