Were the Lakers ever really magic?

LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Jeanie Buss, and the sinking Lakers.

By Henry Abbott

About two years ago, the Lakers made a seismic change. Jeanie Buss replaced her brother Jim with a legend, Magic Johnson. He was an inexperienced basketball executive and admitted he hadn’t mastered the collective bargaining agreement. But he said things like: "I understand what I'm up against, but I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul." Mostly he is just incredibly famous. In the minds of the Laker faithful, his reception came in italics: The Lakers hired Magic Johnson.

The italics of your mind are a warning sign. If somebody is really good at something, that’s just obvious. If you don’t know if they’re any good at it, but they’re hugely famous, and you like them, your brain shines them up with italics. Much of how this team pictures itself can be captured in the idea that they are not The Lakers but The Lakers.

Magic Johnson seemed to have earned his italics a few months later when they signed the game’s best player, LeBron James. LeBron said nice things about meeti…

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