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Dodgers players thrilled Magic Johnson is new team owner

March 28, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Matt Kemp points to the sky after hitting a solo home run against the Texas Rangers during a spring training game on March 9.
Matt Kemp points to the sky after hitting a solo home run against the Texas… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

PHOENIX -- There was a noticeable buzz in the Dodgers' clubhouse Wednesday morning. The previous night, traveling secretary Scott Akasaki had sent the players a text message informing them that a group led by Magic Johnson had agreed to buy the team.

"I think that's tight, man," Matt Kemp said. "For Magic to be one of our owners. He knows what the Dodgers mean to L.A. Of course, Magic is real important to L.A. and the fans love him, so to get him to be a part of the Dodgers organization is a very good thing for us, and I think this is a pretty good day for the Dodgers."

Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' scheduled opening-day starter and union representative, said he was glad the team's ownership problems now appear to be something of the past.

"I didn't expect to hear for a couple days, so I was surprised to hear so soon," Kershaw said. "But I'm glad it's over. I’m glad we have an owner now."

Kershaw asserted that the change in ownership shouldn’t affect the team’s performance.

"The only difference is now we don’t have to answer the same question over and over," he said.

Andre Ethier said he envisioned the Dodgers returning their former prominence.

"It’s a great opportunity for this team and this franchise to get back on the right track and get some stability up front and, hopefully and more importantly, get some stability on the field," Ethier said. "That’s the key of what this whole process has been -- how to make this team, how to make the Dodgers, the best franchise it could be."

Ethier said he knew of Stan Kasten, who will run the Dodgers. Kasten oversaw the Atlanta Braves' transformation from losers to perennial World Series contenders.

Most of the other players said they had heard only of Johnson.

But that was enough to lift their spirits.

Tony Gwynn Jr. recalled how the day Johnson announced his retirement from basketball was the saddest day of his life, other than the days his grandparents passed away.

But not everyone had heard the team had been sold.

"This is the first I’m hearing of it," Juan Uribe said.

"I didn’t know," Juan Rivera said.

Told of how much the team sold for, Rivera looked surprised.

"Two billion?" he asked.

He nodded his head.

"That's good," he said.

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