Johnson said he went to the Sparks’ first-ever game at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood in 1997. Dr. Jerry Buss owned the team then. Penny Toler made the franchise — and the WNBA’s — first basket. “That’s who taught me so much about business,” Johnson said of Buss, who died in 2013. “He was a man who knew how to connect the dots. He knows what the fans want, as far as expectations. That’s what we’re trying to deliver on. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”
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“We had too much talent to be playing that bad,” Johnson said. “I expected more. The fans expected more. I just said, ‘Hey man, we gotta make a change. We can’t keep going like this.’ You could see the players were not responding. We can’t keep going like this. And when the players are not responding, you’ve got to make a change.” Johnson called Kasten and Eric Holoman, the president of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and told them it was time for a coaching change. So much for the idea going around the WNBA that Johnson wasn’t going to be an active owner.
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The Golden State Warriors on Friday confirmed their interest in operating a WNBA franchise, a day after the league announced that the Los Angeles Sparks ownership group has ceased operations of the team and laid off all front-office employees. The Bay Area’s NBA franchise also confirmed that it has been in contact with the WNBA about the possibility of taking over the Sparks franchise. The Sparks are in limbo as the league seeks new ownership, and league president Laurel Richie confirmed Thursday night that the WNBA has made contact with groups who have previously expressed interest in running a franchise.