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Magic Johnson says L.A. can be both Dodgers and Lakers town

The minority Dodgers owner and former Laker says now is the Dodgers time but once the Lakers' season begins attention will turn.

October 04, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan and Dylan Hernandez
  • Lakers great Magic Johnson watches the Dodgers play the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the National League division series on Friday. Johnson says L.A. sports fans will once again shift their focus to the Lakers once baseball season ends.
Lakers great Magic Johnson watches the Dodgers play the Atlanta Braves… (Scott Cunningham / Getty…)

The Dodgers might end up in the World Series while the Lakers might not even make the playoffs this season, which left Magic Johnson facing a double-edged question.

Is Los Angeles becoming a Dodgers town again?

The Dodgers haven't won the World Series since 1988, an uncommonly long drought for the team that moved here in 1958, two years before the Lakers arrived from Minneapolis.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have won five of the last 13 NBA championships but have had quick playoff exits the last three years.

Et tu, Earvin?

"Remember this: It can be both," he said in Atlanta, where the Dodgers faced the Braves. "Yeah, the Dodgers are on fire right now. Why does it have to be one or the other? We have a sports town. Right now, this is Dodger time. Everybody knows that. Once we see how our run is and the Lakers start up, then it's going to turn back to the Lakers."

But won't the Lakers be down this year? They barely finished seventh in the Western Conference last season.

"Well, you don't know until they play the games," Johnson said. "They could be the eight seed. They could get the seven, eight seed."

Lakers fans won't be satisfied with that.

"You have to remember Kobe's injured," said Johnson, a minority owner of the Dodgers and unpaid Lakers vice president. "You know what would be bad? If the Dodgers were bad and the Lakers were having this season too. It's great we're doing well. Hopefully, it will help the Lakers."

It's got to make Johnson sad to see the Lakers have to go through this.

"Of course. Of course. I don't want that franchise to ever go down," he said. "I'm hoping that they get it together. I took everything that Dr. [Jerry] Buss taught me and Jerry West taught me and I instilled in our [Dodgers] organization with our other great partners.

"I saw how Dr. Buss got us involved in the community. That's why I'm on our players to make sure we're involved. That's how we won the hearts. Not just winning on the court, but we were also involved in the community."

Bottom line: Are the Lakers in danger of missing the playoffs?

"I wouldn't go that far," Johnson said. "Last year was supposed to be bad. They still made it. They're out in the first round, but the Clippers went out in the first round just like the Lakers and they won the division. I just hope they turn it around."

Exhibition time

Nick Young said Friday his sprained ankle was not serious and he expected to start at shooting guard Saturday against Golden State in the Lakers' exhibition opener at Ontario.

Steve Nash and Pau Gasol probably won't play Saturday given the Lakers' quick turnaround with a game Sunday at Staples Center against Denver.

The Lakers experienced their worst exhibition season ever a year ago, going 0-8 in part of an early-season slide that eventually cost former coach Mike Brown his job.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.

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