The Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers graced the hardwood during the 1980’s and early 90’s, led by Magic Johnson’s otherworldly passing and infectious smile. On the sidelines, Pat Riley ruled, pacing back and forth with his slicked-back hair and GQ style. Those days may be long gone, but the connections that were made are still going strong.
Now that Johnson has taken over as president of basketball operations for the Lakers, he is taking a cue from his old coach and putting an emphasis on conditioning. During a recent interview on ESPNLA, Johnson used the phrase “world class”, which was a Riley staple, multiple times. When questioned about it, Johnson confirmed that he was borrowing it from his old coach and that he would be meeting with him soon:
“Guess who I got it from…“Oh yeah, I talked to Pat,” he said. “Going to see Pat in a week.”
Johnson later detailed how important conditioning was for the Showtime Lakers, which is why he’s expecting the team to be in excellent shape prior to the start of next season:
“We ran for 45 minutes straight before we even shot the basketball,” Magic said. “We were in such great condition that we could run for four quarters.”
Of course, not everything can be borrowed from the past. Riley himself has found success running the Miami Heat because he has been able to meld his old-school sensibilities with savvy moves and modern thinking. Johnson, who has only been on the job since February, will need to do the same in order to mold the Lakers back into a contender.
There will certainly be a learning curve for Johnson, but he has built up positive relationships with many around the league and will have plenty of places to turn to for advice when he needs it.