HoopsHype Magic Johnson rumors

January 16, 2014 Updates

Johnson, whose Hall of Fame playing career included five NBA titles in 13 seasons with the Lakers, says owner Jim Buss needs to take a few pages from the book written by his father, Jerry Buss, who made the Lakers one of the most successful and entertaining franchises in professional sports. "This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it's backfired," Johnson said during a meeting at The Times between Dodgers officials and Times writers and editors. Johnson is a part owner of the Dodgers. "The biggest problem they're going to have right now … you've got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team. ... You've got to have someone helping Jim. He's got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, 'Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.' " Los Angeles Times

Added Johnson: "Everybody's telling me free agents don't want to sign [with the Lakers]. ... They're looking at the Lakers now as a team that's dysfunctional; who's their leader, who's the guy?" The Lakers (14-25) are in one of the worst slumps in franchise history, losing 12 of their last 13 games. They fell to 14th place in the Western Conference with a 121-114 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday. "Dr. Buss was smart," Johnson said. "He said, 'I'm going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [Phil Jackson].' He wanted to work with the best." Los Angeles Times

December 8, 2013 Updates

Kobe Bryant said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that his four dream teammates for a pickup game would be Magic Johnson,Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Interesting that Bryant omitted former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan. But Jordan excluded Bryant on his list, picking Johnson, Scottie Pippen, James Worthy and Hakeem Olajuwon for his team. Newsday

December 3, 2013 Updates

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili played in their 469th regular-season win for the Spurs on Monday, giving them the third-highest total for any trio of teammates in NBA history. The Spurs' big three had been tied with Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Sam Jones (468 for Boston). The two higher totals were by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for the Celtics (540); and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper for the Lakers (490). ESPN.com

November 27, 2013 Updates

On November 7th, 1991, Magic Johnson held a press conference in Los Angeles to reveal that he had contracted HIV, and was stepping away from the game of basketball. Just hours before the revelation that shook the NBA, Johnson shared his diagnosis with his Laker teammates in the locker room. In an upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey, Johnson spoke about the experience of revealing the news to his fellow players, and the day his life changed forever. “I had been in the trenches with these guys. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do because I’m walking away from my family — that I had been with for years.” For The Win

November 20, 2013 Updates
November 7, 2013 Updates
November 3, 2013 Updates
October 17, 2013 Updates
October 15, 2013 Updates
October 14, 2013 Updates

Deadspin reported last Thursday, via unnamed sources, that you were responsible for Magic Johnson being removed from Countdown. What is your response to that assertion? Bill Simmons: Those unnamed "sources" are liars. Someone planted a fake story to try to make me look bad, and there's a 99.3 percent chance it came from someone in Bristol (which presents its own set of concerns). I was upset; I can't lie. Maybe this happens to people more often than I realize, and maybe it comes with the territory, but man ... I can't properly explain how fantastic it was to watch basketball with Magic for nine months. I brought my dad to our show for the whole day once and he absolutely loved it. He just couldn't believe they paid me to watch hoops with Magic. One of Magic's best qualities is that he always makes an outsider like that feel special and [feel as if] they connected with him -- I probably watched him do it with 50 people last year. To see Magic do that for my father was something else. SI.com

Bill Simmons: He's just an amazing person. When [Johnson's agent] Lon [Rosen] told me Magic was leaving, I actually got pissed at myself that I didn't appreciate those nine months more. Our interview with LeBron after Game 7 [of the NBA Finals] -- seeing the affection that LeBron and Magic had for one another, getting LeBron to open up a little, and being part of that moment in NBA history -- was one of the five or six highlights of my career. Jimmy Kimmel wanted me to write a book about a season watching basketball with Magic -- he was endlessly fascinated that I spent 8-12 hours a week with someone like that. Magic is a story jukebox. We'd be bored sitting there watching some sh-- game and I'd liven things up by asking, "Magic, what was the best fight you ever saw in a game?" and he'd pause dramatically, then he'd launch into some awesome five-minute story and do all the voices and everything. Remember, Magic's life intersected with just about every relevant NBA player and celebrity from the past 40 years. He has an endless well of stories. I probably heard two percent of them. My wife had a running joke -- I'd come home from doing a show, walk through the front door and she'd immediately mock me in my voice (not hard to do), "I can't believe I get to work with Magic Johnson" before I even said anything. SI.com

Bill Simmons: Anyway, that's why the "report" upset me so much -- it wasn't just that someone made it up (and how disturbing that is), but how I felt in real life was the exact opposite of what that "report" portrayed. I felt blindsided when Magic left. I thought he was quitting on the show, and I guess on me, too. I took it personally. But then I thought about the whole Dodgers thing (and how into those games he was), and it made more sense and I got over it. Regardless, I will miss spending time with him every week. Jalen and I nicknamed him "Mogul" for "Hall of Fame Mogul." We were like little kids around him. In retrospect, maybe that wasn't the ideal dynamic for a studio show, but I thought we were getting better at challenging him while also respecting him and everything he accomplished. Year 2 would have been better than Year 1. SI.com

October 10, 2013 Updates

Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson said Thursday he is leaving his job as an NBA analyst for ESPN. Veteran broadcaster Doris Burke will join NBA Countdown in a different capacity, ESPN announced. "I don't feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role," Johnson said in a news release. USA Today Sports

Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, refuted a Deadspin report that said Johnson abruptly left the show because of colleague Bill Simmons' growing influence over the show and Michael Wilbon's diminished role in NBA coverage, which included Doug Collins replacing Wilbon on NBA Countdown. "Magic and Bill Simmons got to be very close and continue to be close," Rosen told USA TODAY Sports. "Bill Simmons and Earvin Johnson are friends. Earvin's close to Bill. We called Bill before the release went out. Bill has been to parties at Earvin's house. He's been to Dodgers game with Bill. He likes Bill a lot." USA Today Sports

In an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, Simmons wrote, "I loved getting to know Magic these past 12 months and was saddened to hear about his decision. We genuinely liked working with one another. Last night Lon Rosen and I were already talking about other possible projects that Magic and I could do together down the road. He's my friend. And a GREAT guy." Simmons tweeted, "My first experience today with someone writing a "sources" report about me that's not true. Part amusing, part horrifying." USA Today Sports

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.