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Time for Magic Johnson, Dodgers owner, to can the Lakers talk

The part owner should deflect the Lakers questions at Dodgers press conferences and focus on his new team.

December 12, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson can't seem to hold his tongue about the Lakers.
Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson can't seem to hold his tongue about… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

It’s time for Magic Johnson to zip it. To recognize exactly where he is at this point in his illustrious life and what is important right now.

Which is supposed to be the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But there is something unseemly about the Dodgers holding consecutive press conferences this week, only for the biggest news for many media outlets to be Magic ripping the Lakers.

It’s too much. It is disrespectful. It needs to end.

Magic needs to stop talking about the Lakers. Really, I think he should stop talking about the NBA. I think he never should have agreed to return this season as an NBA analyst for ABC.

Now maybe you think this is like asking Beyonce to ugly it up a little. Some things just can’t happen.

Magic is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He’s an iconic Laker. He’s still passionate about them, still competitive in his desire to see them excel.

He is just no longer a part owner of the Lakers. He is a part owner of the Dodgers. He doesn’t sit at the podium when the Lakers hold a press conference to welcome in a new player, but he does with the Dodgers.

He invested a lot of money in the Dodgers. It was where he claimed his main focus would be. How he would come to the ballpark early every day eager to work, to make them the best organization in baseball.

So it has to be bothersome to most in the organization that when the Dodgers hold a press conference Monday to introduce South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin, moments later Magic steps down from the stage and is off to the side telling the assembled media how baffled he is at what new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is trying to pull off.

The press is supposed to be there for Ryu’s big day. Not to hear Magic go off on D’Antoni.

Now it’s not his fault the media asked the questions. And it’s not the media’s fault for asking.

But all Magic had to do was politely, say: “Hey, I’m here today to talk about the Dodgers.”

Only he couldn’t help himself. He is honest and outspoken, and right now like most Lakers fans, highly frustrated. So he went off, which the assembled press gobbled up.

The next day the Dodgers held a press conference to introduce right-hander Zack Greinke and it was uncomfortable déjà vu. Magic up at the podium with the new player, singing his praises, talking about the Dodgers wanting to win … and moments later off to the side wondering how D’Antoni could ask all these old, slow players to be a running team.

“I’m here to talk about the Dodgers and Zack Greinke.” That’s all that was needed from Magic on Tuesday on questions about the Lakers.

Magic had to know when he decided to pursue the Dodgers, as difficult as it would be, that he would have to find a way to cut the cord to the Lakers. His present was now with the Dodgers.

Despite no longer being a part-owner of the Lakers, he is still almost mysteriously listed as their vice president. How does that work exactly? How do you own one team in town and be a vice president of another? Isn't there some conflict there?

And should team vice presidents go around publicly ripping their head coach, who’s been on the job less than a month? Magic coached the Lakers once and they went 5-11.

I’m not sure I ever had more fun in my career than covering Magic when he led the Lakers to five NBA titles. It was great, but you move on. Magic can’t move on as owner of the Dodgers if he still seems tethered to the daily doings of the Lakers.

Magic’s attention is fractured enough with all the businesses he oversees, the TV network and prepaid credit card companies he’s started up, and the speaking engagements and charity work he does.

His main job with the Dodgers is almost trying to be the public face of the organization. And you can’t do that well when taking attention away from it by creating headlines about another team.

The Dodgers deserve better. They deserve his full commitment and focus and passion. He’ll always be a Laker, but right now he needs a detox center to replace all that purple and gold with pure Dodger blue. To demonstrate he is with the Dodgers now.

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