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Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said he turned down offers from the Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks before joining the L.A. front office.
The legendary Lakers point guard discussed his other opportunities on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday (via CBS Sports’ Chris Barnewall).
“I turned down three jobs,” Johnson said. “My good friends Peter [Guber] and Joe Lacob bought the Golden State Warriors. They came to me, ‘I want you to be an owner, be a partner with us.’ I said no, I’m a Laker. My friends bought the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores, and a Michigan State guy. ‘Come on home, it would be a great story.’ I can’t, I’m a Laker. I could have owned other teams.”
Johnson spent his entire 13-year playing career with the Lakers. He helped guide the storied NBA franchise to five championships while earning three Most Valuable Player awards and 12 All-Star Game selections en route to a Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
Now the 58-year-old Michigan native is showcasing his continued loyalty to the organization by trying to get the current roster back to a title-contending level.
While Los Angeles is accumulating a promising amount of young talent, led by the last two No. 2 overall picks—Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball—the team was recently fined $500,000 for tampering with former Indiana Pacers forward Paul George.
Johnson told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times last week he’s “gonna make sure it doesn’t happen anymore” and that he doesn’t want the situation to overshadow the overall progress:
“We’re going to have meetings about it next week. … I’m gonna always care about the Laker brand, the Laker fans, so I apologize to them as well. The main thing is we’re going to move forward. We got 95 percent everything’s going great. This is the one thing that went bad. … This is something we can correct. [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] is a great friend of mine. I’m glad he was able to do his job. Now I’m gonna do my job.”
Taking one of the other offers, particularly joining the Warriors star-studded organization, may have presented a more direct line to success than the Lakers. But Johnson remains clear in his desire to help the franchise get back on track.
He’s still got plenty of work to do. OddsShark noted Los Angeles owns 150-1 long-shot odds to win the NBA title heading into the 2017-18 season.