Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Magic Johnson. Fox in the henhouse

So now it's come full circle. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has become the president of the Los Angeles Lakers. Once again the dude has landed feet first in mighty soft cotton. It's amazing how fortunate he's been over these many years.

Back when he was a college kid at Michigan State, he was lucky enough to have the likes of Greg Kelser and Jay Vincent, both future NBA players, on his team. In the NCAA Finals, they faced an Indiana State squad led by a guy named Larry Bird. While Bird was clearly the most talented player on the court, he didn't have much help. Thus Johnson and the Spartans were able to claim a championship.

After his sophomore year, Magic declared for the NBA draft. and the LA Lakers, who had somehow traded up for it, chose him with the first pick. Once again, he fell into a rose garden. Waiting for him were players like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, and Jamaal Wilkes. Not much later, the Lakers would acquire a future Hall of Famer in James Worthy. Johnson was surrounded by incredible talent. They would win some titles, while having wars with the Boston Celtics, and later the Detroit Pistons.

Somewhere along the way, Johnson became bosom buddies with Isiah Thomas of Detroit. They would even smooch at center court preceding a game. Back in those days, such an action was considered a bit strange, to say the least. There were those, yours truly among them, that thought -- hey, if you're gonna do that kind of stuff, go get a room and God bless. And spare us any videos -- please.

On a related note, his buddy "Zeke" turned out to be quite the player himself, as both were elected into the Hall as well. But Thomas was a spectacular disaster when it came to anything involving business.

After his playing days, he became a part owner and executive vice-president of the Toronto Raptors. The infighting began shortly thereafter and Thomas was forced out.

Undeterred, Isiah bought the entire Continental Basketball Association, a minor league for the NBA. Within a couple years the whole outfit went bankrupt and folded.

On to the New York Knicks in the front office. They had considerable talent, but Thomas so botched the salary cap overpaying his "pet" players, from which they've never recovered, and caused such dissension in the organization they hopelessly floundered on the court that he was fired as well.

All the while, Isiah had been raking in mega-bucks. So OK, he bombed out in Toronto and NY as a pro "suit", why not try college? So he did. Florida International hired him as their head coach. In two years, his teams would go an abysmal 12-44, and yep, he got run out of town -- again.

Incredibly, while still at FIU, the Knicks were willing to take him back, cha-ching, in some sort of "advisor" role. Right up until somebody noticed the obvious conflict of interest. You can't be on the payrolls of both a professional and college team at the same time. Duh.

Still, by all appearances, Isiah remains a happy guy. Well he should, given his spectacular failures since he played and how much money he made along the way.

But back to Magic.

In 1991, Johnson tested positive for the HIV virus. It appeared his wife wasn't the only Cookie he'd been fooling around with. Indeed, he would later admit to having mucho sexual partners, but denied any homosexual or hypodermic drug activity usually associated with contracting the disease. Well, of course he did. This was long before the "enlightened" age of the LGBT movement would come about. Whether he did or didn't will forever remain a matter of speculation. Yet one statistic would seem to stand alone. How has Magic avoided the HIV virus turning into full-blown AIDS for the last 25 years, like happens to most everybody else afflicted with the same? Actually, the answer is simple. He's got enough money to afford the outrageously expensive drug cocktail it takes to keep the demon at bay, a luxury 99% of people do not enjoy. Hence, he continues to survive while most others would have perished. Once again, he's extremely lucky.

Along his own way, Johnson teamed up with some other 1 percenters and purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he likely knows little to nothing about Major League Baseball, the Dodgers have been an outstanding team featuring several All-Star talents as players. As such, and given the "market" they're in, the franchise is a virtual cash cow and the profits continue to roll in by the truckloads. Did I mention tall cotton?

So now here we have Earvin Johnson, of AARP eligible age, and he's returned to the LA Lakers as the Prez. Full circle.

And he couldn't possibly have landed in a better scenario. The once proud Lakers have not only fallen from being championship caliber, or even contenders, but have nosedived into the nether region somewhere south of atrocious.

There is no possible down-side, because they can't possibly get much worse. The only way is up. Johnson could sleep at his desk all day, or wander aimlessly around in a Pokemon stupor, and not do any further harm to the Lakers.

Despite the fact they are, by far, the second-class team in their own facility, dwarfed by the talent of the Clippers -- red-headed step-children if you please -- the Lakers continue to appeal to the glitterati, hence even more mega-bucks, and Johnson will share in those riches as well.

Yep, there's more than one reason he's called Magic. Or put another way -- some guys are just plain lucky....

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