Norm Nixon Rumors
The other one that was very similar was when I traded Norm Nixon. He and Magic Johnson both needed the ball to be successful. Jerry Buss and I talked about them and I said, “I don’t call Magic Johnson ‘Magic Johnson.’ I always call him Earvin Johnson, but he was Magic Johnson when he had the basketball in his hands. When he played and he didn’t have the ball in his hands, he was Earvin Johnson.” I think our fans got to expect Magic Johnson instead of Earvin Johnson. He and Norm were too similar in the way they played the game. They both needed the ball. Those were horrible days for me and I will never forget that Jack Nicholson, who was an incredible Lakers fan, wore black to our games for a solid month. He and I finally had to have a talk about that.
Beasley’s talent rarely gives people pause about the three-year, $18 million contract that he agreed to sign with Phoenix. It is whether he has the character, maturity and consistent drive to reach his potential as the 2008 draft’s No. 2 pick. “Phoenix got a steal,” said Nixon, 56, a former two-time All-Star guard who played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. “Trust me. If the Suns are rebuilding, here’s a guy who can play 10 years and be one of the best players in the league. I don’t give that compliment out easily.”
Nixon became involved last year at the request of Minnesota General Manager David Kahn and Beasley’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, who both saw the impact Nixon had as Jalen Rose’s mentor in Indiana. “The smarter guys become off the floor, the better players they become,” Nixon said. “Michael is a great kid. A lot of the problems he had were because of who was surrounding him. Sometimes, you have to eliminate those distractions. “Once you get a tag, it’s hard to shake. Once you see his work ethic and see him off the court, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Nixon’s influence can be seen in Beasley’s slimmer and more flexible body. Nixon’s wife is Debbie Allen, the actress, director and famed choreographer who owns an L.A. dance studio and Nixon and Beasley spent time there this summer applying the stretching elements of dance to Beasley’s body. Included one day was a lesson from a prima ballerina with the Bolshoi. “When you start teaching guys and make them understand better about their bodies, they become better pros,” Nixon said.
“You have seen Michael’s talent, I don’t think there’s a question about the talent,” Nixon said. “What most people don’t realize is he’s 22. He’s just a kid. When young guys come into the league at 18, 19, they’re more comfortable having people around them. I think as you mature and get older, you need to peel some of that entourage off. He’s getting to the stage now where he’s getting to be a leader on this team.