Phil Jackson eyes Magic Johnson move
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Monday's news that Magic Johnson sold his small ownership stake in the Los Angeles Lakers to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong undoubtedly struck a chord around town. But for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Johnson's departure isn't nearly as fascinating as what lies ahead for the Hall of Fame icon.
"What I'm interested in is what he's going to invest in the next time around," Jackson said. "I think that's going to be an interesting thing."
It has been widely speculated Johnson is looking for a larger ownership role with an NBA team, an interest that he acknowledged over the summer and would require him to sell his shares of the Lakers. Jackson wondered if Johnson is also driven in part by seeing the opportunities offered to another legendary contemporary.
"He sees Michael Jordan now at the head of a franchise, kind of directing the course of the Charlotte team, so it'll be interesting to see where he goes with this plan that he has," Jackson said.
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"I really don't know. It depends on how well they take care of their money and how much they can possibly accumulate over the course of their career. In this past decade, a lot of players made tremendous amounts of money in the market of not only playing, but advertisements."
That Johnson has enjoyed so much success as a businessman and investor in his post-basketball career comes as no surprise to Jackson, who pictured the 12-time All-Star as a future mogul even as a rookie.
"Magic was a marketer from the day he came," Jackson said. "He was marketing the Lakers, and then he moved in the Starbucks and theaters. That seems like it's natural for me. Someone out there, a businessman, said, 'Hey, this guy is gonna be great for a business.'
"He's just great with people and with a microphone in front of him. It's something that was great for him."
Should Johnson take the helm of another NBA franchise, he shouldn't count on Jackson as a partner down the road. As it stands, the coach has no interest in eventually owning a basketball franchise.
"No, I haven't considered that as a possible career move at all," Jackson said with a smile. "I'm trying to hang on here, just hold this cat."
A team in Anaheim?
With the Lakers playing an exhibition game at the Honda Center, the question was posed to Jackson about the notion of Anaheim one day having its own franchise. The notion struck the coach as realistic, if not immediately perfect.
"In thinking about it, the possibility is there," Jackson said. "It's oversaturating the market, obviously, but this is a big enough metropolitan territory that they certainly could have a team. I'm not so sure the Honda Center is in the form that modern-day NBA arenas are like in this day and age. But they can renovate that.
"It's a market now that's probably not gonna expand and teams that are going to move here would have to probably take their team from another metropolitan area and move it to this place."
Andy Kamenetzky co-authors the Land O' Lakers blog for ESPNLosAngeles.com.