The Los Angeles Lakers franchise has decided to move forward with Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations. Although the announcement of Johnson’s new role has received relatively positive feedback, there have been some that have criticized the move claiming Magic simply isn’t qualified to hold such a position in the NBA.
Pat Riley, longtime Miami Heat president and former head coach of the Lakers, has come to Johnson’s defense. Riley said the following about his former player turned successful businessman and president of basketball operations in Los Angeles, via Harvey Arton of The Vertical:
“To adamantly say Earvin is not qualified is nonsense. Like Jerry West, he’s a prodigal son of the Lakers.”
Riley had a similar experience when taking over as the Lakers coach with after a short time being an assistant under Paul Westhead. The move to promote the inexperienced Riley resulted in the Showtime era of the Lakers and four NBA titles with Magic leading the way on the court alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.
The former Lakers coach seems to believe Magic will continue his success in the team’s front office. Much like Riley, Magic has been successful in everything he’s done since his playing days, and the current Heat president does see that stopping in his new gig, via Arton:
“Earvin is a guy who has been a prolific businessman, with his cinemas, Starbucks and other things,” he said. “He’s gone into companies and changed management, changed the culture. He’s charismatic, gets up in front of people and puts an immediate face on an organization.”
Only time will tell if Magic is actually qualified and able to turn the Lakers around after four straight seasons of losing without a playoff appearance. It will almost certainly be one of his toughest challenges while being back in the spotlight in Los Angeles.