LOS ANGELES – Magic Johnson is about to learn $2 billion only buys you so much. Now he’ll need to bring the Los Angeles Dodgers the same success he brought the Lakers.
News that Johnson and his partners agreed to purchase the team sparked a groundswell of excited chatter and optimism Wednesday that the man who ran “Showtime” could restore luster to the once-proud franchise.
Current owner Frank McCourt hand-picked Johnson’s group to buy the Dodgers on Tuesday. The deal is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April.
Johnson is seemingly a perfect fit. He lives locally, he already knows what it takes to win championships, and he’s proven he can succeed in real estate, retail and entertainment.
“He’s well-grounded and well-respected,” said David Carter, executive director of USC Sports Business Institute. “You have a strong presence in the community, he’s connected to city hall, and has a good relationship with the media. All these things are important and will help the community get over Frank.”
And Johnson still has the dazzling smile that will make him a great public face for what once was – and could be again – one of baseball’s marquee franchises.
“Great day for the Dodgers,” slugger Matt Kemp said from spring training in Glendale, Ariz. “As Magic used to say, the Dodgers were the team that used to run L.A.”
Retired Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda has known Johnson since he first came to play for the Lakers.
“The most important part is he’ll talk to some of the players individually about how to win. That’s what we got to do right now is win again and bring our fans back,” he said.
Hours after the announcement that Johnson’s group was the winning bidder, the Dodgers said their April 10 home opener was sold out.
“As soon as you hear the name Magic Johnson, it turns into a positive,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
“There’s positive energy around the ball club, around the city.”
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