Magic Johnson RumorsAll NBA Players
Tarik Black: I have a lot of fond memories of my adventures volunteering for the museum for its various events. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela and Dr. Paul Rusesabagina at the annual Freedom Awards (an awards gala the museum has every year to celebrate national and international touchstones of philanthropy and people who fight against social injustice). When I was 12 years old or so, I was attending the Freedom Awards as an aspiring athlete watching Magic Johnson speak about his works in giving back. He spoke of his basketball legacy as a vehicle and platform to reach those who are in need. He told of how basketball did not define him but enabled his greater calling of philanthropy. That inspired me so much and has been my creed since I’ve flourished in basketball.
James Worthy sees some Magic Johnson-like traits in Lonzo Ball and believes his old Showtime point guard will be able to “deliver” some star reinforcements in free agency this summer. Before the season started, Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said he can envision Ball and Brandon Ingram running the floor like Johnson and Worthy did during their Showtime days. Johnson set an extremely high bar for the past two No. 2 overall picks respectively. “Big shoes to fill,” said Worthy, currently a Lakers analyst for Spectrum SportsNet. “But I think I totally get conceptually where Magic was coming from and the style of play that Luke [Walton] is promoting, the fast-paced game. Lonzo Ball, for sure, presents some of the talents that Magic had. Not as tall, but he is 6-6 and has the IQ, has a vision like no other. “As soon as players get used to the way he passes and they get some really good shooters around him, I think people will really appreciate him. And they already have appreciated what he brings to the table, a very unselfish player.”
Magic Johnson’s biggest task will be to give Lonzo Ball — who is averaging 12 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 3.3 steals in his past three games — superstars to pass to. The Lakers will try to add two stars this summer when LeBron James is expected to headline the free agency class, and Worthy thinks his old point guard will not come up empty-handed. “You look at what Magic Johnson has been able to do throughout his basketball career, [and] in his post-basketball career, he’s been able to manifest pretty good deals,” the former Lakers great said. “When Magic is in the room, that is a major asset trying to recruit. “With Kobe [Bryant] gone and the young core players that we have, and I think players understand and see what Lonzo Ball brings to the table as a point guard, I really think we are in a good place and I think [Johnson] will be able to deliver next year.”
SLAM: So you’d still want to play against guys like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson? Gary Payton: I want to play against those guys. It makes the game better when you don’t stay with the guys that are good as you are and it’s not an even game. When you play against guys you want to compete against, then that means you’re going to compete hard because you picked these certain guys and they say, ‘OK, you didn’t wanna pick me? We going go at it.’ So that’s what I want. I want to go at a guy that got the same mentality as me as that you didn’t pick me, I’m going to go at you every time in this game. And that’s what’ll make it very interesting.